ORLANDO, Fla. – The fifth-ranked Texas A&M softball team (19-1) rallied to a 6-4 win over No. 13 Louisiana (14-3) before ending a program-best start of 19 straight wins with a 2-9 loss to 14th-ranked Michigan (12-3) Friday on day one of the Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Aggies now have just one loss in 20 games and will play three more, vs. Illinois State, College of Charleston and Penn State, to close out the weekend.
Louisiana struck early, using a single and a home run in the first two at-bats to jump to a 2-0 lead. The Aggies didn’t let the lead stay long, scoring two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning.
Junior Brittany Clopton, who was celebrating her birthday, hit an infield single to start the half-inning. Two straight walks loaded the bases before senior Mel Dumezich was hit by a pitch to force Clopton across the plate. A third walk, by freshman Cali Lanphear, forced senior Nicole Morgan home to tie the game.
The Ragin’ Cajuns stretched back out to a two-run lead in the top of the fifth on a pair of base hits and a fielding error.
A&M again answered quickly, this time with just one run on a Nicole Morgan solo blast over dead-center field.
Trailing 3-4 in the bottom of the sixth, the Aggies took their first lead of the game. With one out, Lanphear drew a walk before junior Jenna Stark hammered a home run over the wall in right field and picked up two RBI as she carried Lanphear home on the hit.
Senior Sydney Shannon used the momentum for a long hit of her own, a double to right center, before junior Allison Garrett replaced her on the base paths. Garrett took third on a wild pitch and, with two outs, sophomore Brittany Clopton reached on a throwing error that gave Garrett time to score from third, unearned.
The Aggies retired three batters in the top of the seventh with no more damage done and ended the game with a 6-4 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns for their 19th-straight win on the season.
Dumezich (13-0) took the win after throwing nine strikeouts and allowing three earned runs on seven hits and one walk. UL pitcher Jordan Wallace suffered the loss after she gave up five earned runs on five hits and six walks through 5.1 innings in the circle. The game marked the first time the ace was removed from the rubber in the middle of an inning this year.
The Aggies’ streak came to a halt against the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines after early mistakes were left unanswered in the 2-9 loss.
A series of errors and four base hits gave the Wolverines four unearned runs in the top of the first. Dumezich entered to pitch for the Aggies and stopped the bleeding as she threw a groundout for the final out of the half-inning.
Michigan used a leadoff single and a fielding error in the top of the second to push two more runs, one unearned, home for the 6-0 lead.
Looking for a rally in the bottom of the second, the Aggies tallied two runs on a bomb over centerfield by Stark. The blast picked up two RBI as Lanphear, who reached on a fielder’s choice, also scored on the play. Stark hit two home runs on the day as she went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBI.
The Aggies left two runners on the bags in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. Michigan added a seventh run in the top of the fourth with a one-run home run over centerfield that brought the score to 7-2.
A&M was again unable to make a rally effort, stranding four runners through the sixth inning. Michigan threw its last stone in the top of the seventh with a two-run home run that pushed the Wolverine lead to 9-2 before the team shut down the A&M side in the final half-inning.
Aggie pitcher Lauren Ainsley (6-1), who started the game and reentered in the seventh to close out, took the loss after giving up four unearned runs on four hits and striking out one through 1.1 innings. Michigan’s Sara Driesenga (11-2) earned her 11th victory of the season after she struck out 10 batters and gave up just two runs on seven hits in the complete-game effort.
The Aggies will play Illinois State tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. CST, followed by a game with College of Charleston at 1:30 p.m. CST. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.