LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 18 Texas A&M Softball team dropped a 5-3 game at 12th-ranked Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference series finale, Sunday in front of a live national audience on FSN South from John Cropp Stadium. With the win, Kentucky takes the series 2-1.
Freshman Abby Donnell led the Aggies on the day, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI, and closing the game in the circle with a 2/3-inning outing. Redshirt junior Rachel Fox (10-6) suffered the loss after she allowed four earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out five batters in 5 1/3 frames.
Sophomore Breanna Dozier hit a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning to bring the Aggies back into the game after an early deficit, but Texas A&M was unable to take a lead on the Wildcats and suffered its third SEC series loss of the season.
“I didn’t think it was a really crisp game for us,” Head Coach Jo Evans said. “I didn’t think we played particularly sharp. Having said that, I thought we fought. Our kids came back and fought for it. Rachel [Fox] hung one there in the first inning, but still I believe we’re a potent enough offense to come back from that. [Breanna] Dozier gets up there and gets her opportunity and makes the most of it and goes yard and puts us right back in the game. Our defense I didn’t think was as sharp as it needed to be. We’ve got to be able to put three games together where defensively we’re solid and we believe in our plan and we get after it. I didn’t think we were as sharp today.”
A two-out home run over centerfield in the bottom of the first gave the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead after the Aggies went down in order in the top of the inning. UK put runners on base with two outs on a base hit and a walk before the blast elevated the home team to a three-run advantage.
Donnell reached base on an infield single in the top of the second and moved to second base on an error to give the Aggies a chance to score. The designated player was stranded on the half-inning, however, and Kentucky held on to its lead. Freshman April Ryan was also left on second in the top of the fourth after drawing a walk and advancing on a sacrifice bunt from senior Nicole Morgan.
The Aggies had a couple of big defensive plays early in the game, with a throw out at home in the bottom of the second and a runner caught stealing second in the bottom of the third, to keep the UK lead from growing.
Donnell moved to second again in the top of the fifth, after reaching on her second infield hit and taking a base on senior Jenna Stark’s sacrifice bunt. With one out on the board, sophomore Breanna Dozier entered to pinch hit and earned her spot in the lineup as the Aggies’ new designated player with a two-run home run down the line in left. The blast narrowed Kentucky’s lead to a one-run advantage at 3-2.
The Wildcats pulled ahead by another run in the bottom of the fifth, however, on a fielding error that would have been the final out of the inning.
Dozier’s home run put some momentum into the Texas A&M lineup and the Aggies loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth. Morgan drew a walk and was replaced on the base paths by pinch runner Allison Garrett, who took second on a base hit to left field by senior Cassie Tysarczyk. A single through the right side from freshman Reagan Boenker loaded the bases in time for an RBI ground out from Donnell. Two runners were left stranded on the third out, and UK held its 4-3 lead.
Kentucky stretched to a two-run advantage again in the bottom of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly out. The Wildcats used a hit-by-pitch, a sacrifice bunt and a base hit to put a runner on third as the fly to right field gave the runner time to tag third and run home to make it a 5-3 ballgame.
Dozier drew a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh, attempting to start at Aggie rally, but three straight batters went back to the dugout for Texas A&M and Kentucky took the series win with a 5-3 finale victory.
UK’s Meagan Prince (7-3) took the win after allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings of work. Reliever Shannon Smith earned her first save of the season with a 1 1/3-inning outing that included a walk and two strikeouts.
Up next, the Aggies return to the Lone Star State to host No. 2 Tennessee in an SEC series at the Aggie Softball Complex next weekend. Friday and Sunday’s games will be aired on ESPNU. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.