KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 4 Texas A&M softball team (26-3, 4-2 SEC) dropped just its third game of the season in an 8-6 loss to No. 8 Tennessee (25-6, 4-3 SEC), Friday in the series opener at Lee Stadium.
The Aggies and Lady Volunteers went back-and-forth at the plate, and the game changed leads five times. A&M hit four home runs on the night, including three back-to-back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth. The Aggies had never scored a run on the Lady Vols in program history, but ended the streak tonight as they crossed the plate six times.
Senior Meagan May slugged a solo home run over the fence in left-centerfield in the top of the first, scoring A&M’s first-ever run against UT. The bomb was the 60th of May’s career, and expands on the Aggie career record she already owns.
Tennessee answered the strike-first effort by the Aggies with a two-run home run, after a batter was hit by a pitch to reach first. UT again took advantage of runners on base in the bottom of the third when a single, a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch loaded the bags before another single plated two runs for the 4-1 lead.
A&M put runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth, but were unable to capitalize on the chance. Senior Mel Dumezich led off in the frame with a first-pitch single chipped into left field. A walk by freshman Cali Lanphear pushed Dumezich to second before she was replaced on the base paths by freshman Alex Masek. A sacrifice bunt by junior Jenna Stark moved the rookies into scoring position at second and third, where they were left in the end of the inning.
The Aggies didn’t let the deficit bother them, though, and hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth to take their second lead of the game. Junior Emily Albus hit a one-out double down the line in left and was sent home on May’s second bomb of the day. Following suit, junior Nicole Morgan went yard for the 13th time this season for a solo homer. Dumezich added a third home run in as many at-bats to give A&M a 5-4 lead.
Tennessee pulled even in the bottom of the fifth, plating a run on an RBI fielder’s choice for the 5-5 stalemate.
The draw didn’t last long as A&M pulled back to a one-run lead at 6-5 in the top of the sixth. Sophomore Brittany Clopton drew a walk and was pushed to second when May reached on an intentional walk. An error on a fielder’s choice sent Clopton home for the go-ahead run.
The Lady Vols took their second-and-final lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth, stretching to an 8-6 lead on a three-run home run. UT loaded the bases for the third time of the night after the lead change, but the Aggie defense sent the runners back to the dugout for the seventh inning.
A&M was unable to rally in the top of the seventh and Tennessee took game one of the three-contest series, 8-6. Aggie senior Mel Dumezich (18-2) took the loss after giving up eight earned runs on nine hits and two walks while fanning five and hitting two batters in 5.0 innings. UT closer Ivy Renfroe (10-3) earned the win after striking out four batters and giving up one unearned run in 2.0 innings in the circle.
The Aggies and Lady Vols will face off tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. CDT on ESPNU. Mark Neely will call the pitch-by-pitch with Jessica Mendoza giving color commentary. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.