COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Sophomore Jenna Stark hit a walk-off double as the No. 19 Texas A&M softball team fought to a 1-0, eighth-inning victory over No. 10 Missouri, Sunday at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The Aggies (22-9, 2-1 Big 12) earned the series victory in their first Big 12 outing of the season, defeating the Tigers (23-5, 4-2 Big 12) in a pair of games and dropping one.
“I feel like when we’re at home and have the crowd we had and all the energy, we should win all of these close games,” head coach Jo Evans said. “Yesterday, we felt like we should have won that close game. Today we figured out a way to win and that should give our kids a ton of confidence, understanding that we have the mental and emotional intelligence and maturity to handle some setbacks during the game.”
Missouri pitcher Chelsea Thomas (11-3) held onto a no-hitter, with 11 strikeouts, through the eighth inning when two Aggie doubles gave A&M the walk-off win. Aggie junior Mel Dumezich (14-6) was almost perfect from the circle, throwing a complete-game shutout and giving up just one hit and two walks.
“Mel was great today,” Evans said. “We talked about how their [Missouri] coach likes to call their pitches and you could tell it really got to her. I pulled her aside this morning and said, ‘It doesn’t matter if they’re calling the pitches or not. You’re good enough to beat them. Don’t give any power to their coach and their dugout. Their hitters still have to hit it.’ She only gave up one hit all day, and that’s a great-hitting ballclub. She was terrific today on the mound.”
Sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk was the only Aggie to reach base through five innings, drawing a walk in the bottom of the fifth. Dumezich also walked, taking four balls in the bottom of the seventh.
Mizzou third baseman Corrin Genovese took hold of a pitch and sent it to left field for a double in the top of the third but that was the only hit allowed by Dumezich in the eight-inning shutout. Genovese tried for the same spot in the top of the sixth and would have picked up a second hit but senior center fielder Kelsea Orsak sprinted to left, dove and slid several feet before making a highlight-worthy catch.
“Kelsea Orsak was due to make a catch like that,” Evans said. “For her to get out there and lay out and make a catch like that is who she is.”
The Aggie defense quickly shut down three batters in the top of the eighth to take the game to its final half-inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tysarczyk went opposite field with a double, A&M’s first hit of the game. A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Taran Tyler sent the right fielder to third before Stark’s rocket to right-center gave the Aggies the series win as Tysarczyk crossed home for the walk-off 1-0 run.
Stark, who didn’t enter the batting order until the sixth inning, picked up just her second career hit and her first career double while earning her first RBI as an Aggie.
“Jenna did a great job,” Evans said. “In the first at bat she had, she struck out but I really thought she looked good in her at bat. I love that kid so much. She’s been such a huge difference maker in our ballclub. She’s a difference maker because of who she is, who her parents raised her to be.”
The Aggies close out a four-game home stand on Wednesday with a 6:30 p.m. game vs. No. 15 Baylor. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.