COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Senior All-American Megan Gibson picked up win No. 20 on the season and went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored off a double and a homerun, as the seventh-ranked Texas A&M softball team (33-6, 5-0) handed the Missouri Tigers (31-9, 2-1) their first conference loss of the season, a 5-1 routing at the Aggie Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon.
“I thought today’s game was really critical for us,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We needed to come out here and get a win and make a statement to Missouri that we’re not the other teams that you’ve played. We are a strong team and we know how to compete against a great team like they are. To get the first win of the series is really important and that puts some pressure on them tomorrow.”
Gibson plated the winning run for A&M in the third inning, a solo shot off a 2-2 count that more than cleared the left-centerfield wall. The homerun was Gibson’s 10th of the season and 34th run driven in.
A&M’s first run of the ballgame would come in the second inning as second baseman Natalie Villarreal hit a one-out single through the left side. Back-to-back singles by designated player Alex Reynolds and leftfielder Kelsey Spittler brought Villarreal around to score. A throw home by Rhea Taylor from centerfield seemed to have Villarreal nailed at the plate, but Tiger catcher Katie Milles was called for obstruction allowing Villarreal to touch home safely.
Reynolds also went 2-for-3 at the plate driving in an insurance run for the Aggies following Gibson’s longball in the third. A&M third baseman Jamie Hinshaw reached on a bunt-single and moved to third after Holly Ridley singled to right field and MU shortstop Abby Vock booted Kathryn Poet’s throw in.
“It was nice to see Gibson step-up,” Evans said. “She is always going to get hits but that homerun was just a screamer. And then it’s nice to see Hinshaw swing the bat. She had a fantastic bunt in that situation. Their defense was playing back. I like the way Jamie was paying attention. She did that on her own and did a nice job with it.”
The Aggies would seal the victory scoring two more runs in the fourth frame. With two outs Gibson and Hinshaw laced back-to-back doubles. A&M catcher Erin Glasco sent the first pitch of her at-bat into right field to score Hinshaw from second, giving the Aggies a 5-0 lead.
Missouri was able to post a run in the top of the seventh as starting pitcher Jen Bruck tried to help her cause on the mound by leading off the inning with a homerun over a back-peddling Spittler in leftfield.
Despite her effort at the plate, Bruck would suffer the loss, dropping to 7-5 on the season. The senior worked six complete surrendering five runs on 12 hits. Bruck struckout seven Aggie hitters while allowing three free passes.
“Offensively, I thought we did a great job against Bruck,” said Evans. “We were looking to hit. We were aggressive. We took walks when we needed to. She’s an ace out there for them and she’s done a good job against us in the past. I thought our kids did a really great job.”
Gibson struckout 11 batters in seven innings in the circle to register her Big 12-leading 19th complete game of the season. With the win, Gibson and the Aggies tie A&M’s best start to league play since 2005 at 5-0.
“I thought Megan threw great,” Evans ended. “She had a couple of key at-bats where she got down in the count 3-1 and went right at them. I really like that. I’d rather them hit a homerun in that spot then to let them off the hook and give them a walk. I think she’s doing a good job with that.”
The Aggies and Tigers will close out the two-game series on Sunday at the Aggie Softball Complex. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. and can be heard on AggieAthletics.com.
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