COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The No. 19 Texas A&M softball team (21-9, 1-1 Big 12) dropped a close game to No. 10 Missouri (23-4, 4-1 Big 12) Saturday in the second game of the three-game conference series at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Despite four home runs by the home team, A&M dropped the heartbreaker, its first conference loss of the season, to 10th-ranked Missouri. The Aggies and Tigers are tied at 1-1 in the Big 12 series, with the deciding game at noon tomorrow.
“[We] did [a good job of battling],” head coach Jo Evans said. “I thought they did a nice job. They didn’t give up. We were down 6-1 to a really good ballclub and we didn’t quit. I just liked our fight at the plate. We’re not going to be a team that ever gives up. We’re going to be a team that fights as hard as anybody can fight. We’re not going to lay down, I don’t care who we’re playing.”
Missouri took the first run of the game, scoring a player who walked, on a double to center field in the top of the first.
The Tigers’ starting lead was short, however, as the Aggies’ first home run of the day, a long ball over left center by junior Meagan May, tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. May was 2-for-3 on the game with a walk and a single.
Missouri batted through the lineup in the top of the second and the Aggies couldn’t stop the bleeding as the Tigers pulled ahead to a 6-1 lead. Mizzou scored five runs in the second on two walks, two singles and two doubles.
A&M was determined to make a comeback and slowly chipped away at the intimidating lead. A home run that bounced off of the wall in right field by senior Kelsea Orsak brought the deficit to four runs and took the game out of the third inning with a 6-2 score.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior Taran Tyler pushed a double into right-center before senior Natalie Villarreal hit a two-out home run over right field for a pair of RBI as Missouri’s lead narrowed to 6-4.
A first-pitch laser that cleared the fence down the right field line by sophomore Amber Garza brought the Aggies within one run of the Tigers headed into the seventh. In the bottom of inning, May placed a perfect single on the right field line before she was replaced on the base paths by freshman Brittany Clopton. Junior Mel Dumezich drew a walk next, to put runners on first second.
With two outs and two on, sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk battled through a long at bat before connecting with a ball that looked like it was going somewhere. The fly was caught in left field, however, as the Aggies dropped a tight, 6-5 game to the 10th-ranked Tigers.
Dumezich (13-6) took the loss for A&M, giving up five earned runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. Freshman Lauren Ainsley (2-0) spent the last 5 1/3 innings in the circle, striking out five batters and walking none while giving up no runs on one hit.
“[Lauren] was terrific on the mound,” Evans said. “Obviously Missouri is a good hitting ball club and they came out prepared. Lauren Ainsley did really well out there. She was very businesslike and I love her composure on the mound. She showed a lot as a freshman to come in in that tough situation and shut them down.”
Missouri’s Kristin Nottelmann (8-2) earned the win, throwing four complete innings and giving up four earned runs on five hits and three walks. Chelsea Thomas (11-2) took her first save of the season. Thomas gave up a hit and walked a batter while striking out none in one inning of relief.
The Aggies and Tigers will play the final matchup of the three-game series tomorrow at noon. That game will be broadcast live on 95.1-3 The Zone HD, available worldwide on any smartphone, computer or HD radio. Log on to RadioAggieland.com for more information. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, visit AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.