COLLEGE STATION, Texas – In a second straight conference run-rule the 16th-ranked Texas A&M softball team (33-14, 13-6 Big 12) slammed No. 7 Texas (37-8, 11-6 Big 12) with a 9-0, six-inning win Thursday on ESPN, in front of a season-high 1,380 fans at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Thursday’s matchup was the first softball game of the 2011-12 State Farm Lone Star Showdown. The game was also the first contest in the three-game conference series between the Aggies and Longhorns. Games two and three are set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m., both in Austin.
“The thing is, people must know this about us, we respect Texas,” Head Coach Jo Evans said. “We understand how talented they are. They have beaten a lot of really great teams, and that wasn’t by accident. That was because they are talented. I’m going to let our kids enjoy this one tonight, and our staff. They are doing a great job. Our hitters are doing a really nice job out there, and I thought defensively we made plays.”
The win ties for the second largest margin of victory in a game between A&M and Texas and is the only run-rule in the 16-year history between the ball clubs.
The Aggies scored all nine runs on four home runs by three different Aggies. Sophomore Amber Garza was 2-for-3 with a walk and two three-run bombs, picking up a career-high six RBI on the night. Junior Brittany Walker also went yard with only the second home run of the season, the first coming two nights ago against Baylor.
Texas had seven hits on the night, coming close to the Aggies’ eight, but couldn’t capitalize on bases-loaded situations.
A&M started the scoring rally in the bottom of the second with back-to-back home runs from Garza and sophomore Nicole Morgan. Sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk was the first Aggie on base in the game, hitting in infield single to reach base before junior Mel Dumezich drew a walk behind her.
Garza earned her first three RBI of the night when she sent a long ball over left-center field to score Tysarczyk and Dumezich. Garza returned from an injury Tuesday vs. Baylor and has hit three home runs since.
Morgan didn’t wait long before she sent a pitch over the exact same spot for a solo home run, her fourth home run of the season, as the Aggies entered the top of the third with a 4-0 jump on the Horns.
“You look at the first inning,” Evans said. “We were three-up, three-down but every one of those kids drew a full count. To me, that says to the pitcher, ‘Listen, you are going to have to throw something on the plate here because I am not going to help you out.’ I also think in that first inning, when your hitters are taking full-counts that means we are seeing every single pitch that pitcher can throw. I thought it really prepared our kids well for that second inning. We saw all of those pitches, even though we were three-up, three-down in the first, that meant in the second inning was where those kids got out there and had seen enough pitches to understand what she was going to be throwing.”
Texas threatened twice with a runner on third in the first and fifth innings, but Dumezich mixed pitches to keep them at bay.
“We were coming out there in the sixth inning and we’re talking about how we’ve got to score some more runs,” Evans said. “It’s Texas, they can hit the ball. They can hit the long ball. All it takes is one spark for them, and they will make you pay for it. It was really great to see our kids keep pushing and putting the pressure on them.”
In the bottom of the sixth Tysarczyk again led off with a hit, sending a laser into the centerfield wall for a double. Dumezich took her second walk of the day and was replaced by sophomore Kaydee Rayburn just in time for Garza to plate three more runs on her second homer of the day to the same spot in left-center field.
Morgan patiently waited for ball four behind Garza and traded places with freshman pinch runner Brittany Clopton. With no outs and one on, Walker pulled a ball to right-center field and went yard for only the second time in her career as A&M left the field with a 9-0 walk-off, run-rule victory.
“Typically [Brittany] will hit the ball hard like that but it’s usually a line drive in the gap,” Evans said. “When she rounded third I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ She looked at me like, ‘I don’t know what just happened.’ We got some really good looks and our kids just stayed in the game.”
Dumezich (24-10) earned her fourth conference shutout of the season, throwing five strikeouts in six complete innings while giving up seven hits and walking three. Texas’ Kim Bruins (7-5) suffered the loss after allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and walking three in five innings pitched.
“I thought Mel looked comfortable; she had a couple of time where she wasn’t, but that is the way a pitcher works,” Evans said. “You’re not going to be perfect out there, and she understands that. I just really thought the crowd was great. People came early and they were loud, and we gave them something to cheer about. I’m just really proud to be a Fightin’ Texas Aggie right now. It’s a big win for us.”
The Aggies and Horns will rematch in Austin this weekend. Game two is set for a 12:30 first pitch on FSN, and the series finale Sunday will start at 5 p.m. on the Longhorn Network. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.