COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 8 seed Texas A&M softball team (40-17) dropped a 2-0 heartbreaker to Louisiana State (36-22) Saturday in the Aggies’ second game of the NCAA Regional at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The shutout was only the third time the Aggies have not scored a run in a game this season. A&M will play Texas State at 7 p.m. The winner of tonight’s game will face LSU tomorrow at 1 p.m. All games are on ESPN3.
“[It was [definitely a disappointing loss for us,” head coach Jo Evans said. “We didn’t take care of business in the first inning. LSU did a good job to jump out early and put some pressure on us. We just didn’t handle that well. We had the opportunity to get out of the inning and didn’t make a play. I felt from that point we let the game speed up in our heads. We didn’t do a good job of taking a step back, gathering ourselves and relaxing to play the game. [Rachele] Fico did a nice job out there.”
LSU came out strong with a pair of runs in the top of the first. Right fielder AJ Andrews singled over third base to lead off and was followed on base by Simone Heyward, who drew a walk. A groundout moved the runners into scoring position before A&M pitcher Mel Dumezich hit a batter to load the bases.
With the bags full, LSU second baseman Allison Falcon put a base hit in left field to score Andrews from third. When the throw from left went wild, Heyward scored on the error. The Tigers left the first with a 2-0 lead.
Aggie sophomore Amber Garza led off in the bottom of the second with a hard-hit double to right-center. The third baseman was left stranded in the end of the inning, however, and LSU maintained a two-run lead.
A&M continued to battle, holding loaded bases in the top of the third to stay within two runs of the Tigers.
“I said, ‘Calm down. Let’s slow the game down here. There’s no need to panic.’ I have a lot of confidence in our hitters, and our ballclub,” Evans said. “We have given up runs in the first inning before and we managed it really well. Our kids just need to slow everything down, and we didn’t do a good job of that. Offensively, we needed to be more aggressive early in the count, and I didn’t think we did that. My message was the same as it is every game. ‘We’ve got this. Slow the game down. Let the game come to you and we are going to be just fine.’ I felt like we would, but I could sense our kids just couldn’t get themselves to slow it down.”
Sophomore Emily Albus drew a four pitch walk and stole second in the bottom of the inning. Junior Meagan May also took first on four balls and the Aggies ended the inning with two runners on base and no runs.
The Aggies got one runner on base in each of the final three innings, but were unable to score a run and ended the game with a 0-2 loss to the Tigers. Junior Brittany Walker singled in the fifth and Dumezich and Villarreal each drew walks. Walker and Dumezich were the only two A&M players to reach base twice in the game.
LSU’s Rachele Fico (18-11) took the win for her 13th shutout this season. She fanned six batters and walked six while allowing two hits by the Aggies. Dumezich (28-12) suffered the loss after giving up two earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six.
“We talked about a few things we could different from that game, but mostly we have to just play one game at a time,” Evans said. “It is absolutely critical that we don’t think, ‘We have to win three games, or we have to win two tomorrow.’ We have to condense it down to we have an opponent who we are going to play, and we need to be on top of our game. Our kids understand you can’t get ahead of yourselves. We are focused on the next game.”
The Aggies will take on the winner of the Texas State-Bethune-Cookman game (set for 4 p.m.) at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.