HONOLULU, Hawaii – The No. 21 Texas A&M softball team (20-8) finished Hawaii’s Chevron Spring Fling Tournament with a 4-1 record after run-ruling Marist (7-14), 14-2 in five innings, on the tournament’s final day.
“I’m really really pleased with the way our kids played,” head coach Jo Evans said. “This was one of those games where we came out and took care of business from the get-go. I loved seeing us score every single inning and getting better as the game went on and offensively attacking the ball.”
The Aggies wasted no time getting comfortable on the field as freshman pitcher Lauren Ainsley quickly shut down three batters in the top of the first in her first career start from the circle.
In the bottom of the inning senior Natalie Villarreal battled through a long at bat and fouled off several full-count pitches before taking a high ball to the back to reach first. A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Emily Albus sent Villarreal to second before a hard-hit single up the middle by junior Mel Dumezich gave the second baseman time to fly home for the 1-0 lead.
The second proved even more productive as A&M pulled further ahead to a 4-0 lead. Ainsley fanned a pair of batters in the top of the inning, holding the Red Foxes to a scoreless offensive half-inning.
With one out in the bottom frame, senior Kelsea Orsak bunted and beat the throw to first for a single before being pushed to third on a walk by Villarreal and a single through the left side by Albus. With bases loaded, junior Meagan May looped a single into the gap in left field to score Orsak from third and load the bases again.
Dumezich found the same gap with an identical RBI single that pushed Villarreal home for the 3-0 lead. Sophomore Taran Tyler grounded out to the second baseman on the first pitch, but she picked up an RBI as Albus sped home and gave A&M a 4-0 lead that they held through the end of the inning.
Marist used a home run in the top of the third to narrow the scoring gap to a 4-2 Aggie lead as two runners crossed home on the long ball over left, but the Aggies didn’t let that faze them. In the bottom of the inning, A&M stretched its lead to 8-2 on five base hits.
Garza was hit in the elbow with a pitch to reach first with one out and rounded to third on singles by Orsak and Villarreal. A lob into shallow center field by Albus scored Garza and loaded the bags. A base hit by Dumezich pushed Orsak in before Tyler put a ball in left field to pick up a pair of RBI as Villarreal and Albus crossed the plate for the 8-2 lead.
A Meagan May grand slam, her first of the season, gave A&M more security in the bottom of the fourth as the Aggies pulled ahead to 12-2. Garza and Villarreal had each reached on four balls and Albus was at first after her third base hit of the day, a bunt single.
The scoring didn’t stop there, though. A single by Dumezich, her fourth on the day, and walks by freshman Lauren Tamayo and sophomore Allison Garrett loaded the bases. Dumezich was 4-for-4 on the day with three RBI.
Tysarczyk pounded a ball at the second baseman that took a nasty hop for a two-RBI single as sophomore Nicole Morgan, pinch running for Dumezich, and Tamayo scored for a 14-2 A&M lead.
Marist loaded the bases in the top of the fifth but Ainsley fanned the final batter to end the game in five innings. The freshman right-hander threw five complete innings, striking out eight batters and giving up two earned runs on two hits while walking five. Marist’s Emily Osterhaus (2-3) suffered the loss after giving up 13 earned runs on 14 hits in 3 2/3 innings in the circle.
“I thought Lauren did a great job,” Evans said. “Her changeup was really good today. She made one mistake so she’s got to learn to keep the ball off the plate, but I thought she played really well all day.”
A&M had a successful week in paradise, outhitting opponents 46-to-20 and outscoring them, 30-to-8. The only blemish on the Aggies’ 4-1 record on the weekend was a 3-0 loss to No. 1 Cal in their first game of the week. The A&M bullpen struck out 36 batters and gave up just 7 earned runs while walking 21.
The Aggies return to the Lone Star State to kick off Big 12 Conference play at home against No. 12 Missouri this coming weekend. A&M and the Tigers will play a three-game, three-day series starting with a 7 p.m. Friday game at the Aggie Softball Complex. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.