Comeback bid falls short against No. 6 Florida

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COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M Softball fell to No. 6 Florida, 8-6, in the series opener Friday evening at Davis Diamond.

After the Gators (34-9, 7-6 SEC) jumped out to an early seven-run lead in the first, the Aggies battled back by scoring five runs in the fourth. Texas A&M (25-16, 3-10 SEC) quickly loaded the bases and scored runs on consecutive at bats on a hit by pitch and a Haley Lee single. Kayla Gracia drove in Madi Jatzlau on an infield grounder before back-to-back RBI singles from Morgan Smith and Kelbi Fortenberry.

Florida got a run back in the fifth on a Hannah Sipos solo home run to left. The Maroon and White, donning 1987 throwback uniforms, responded with a run in the bottom of the sixth in the form of a Baylee Klingler RBI single.

Hannah Mayo dazzled in the circle as the righty shut the door on the Gator offense, scattering six hits and one run in 6.2 innings. The redshirt freshman fanned two. Kayla Poynter earned the start and was saddled with the loss to move to 4-6 on the year.

KEY INNINGS

T1 | Back-to-back walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Florida before Jordan Roberts drove in the game’s first run on a RBI single to right. Hannah Adams reached on an error, which scored Kendyl Lindaman before Jaimie Hoover drew a bases-loaded walk. Alex Voss followed with a RBI single to left before Hannah Sipos plated Adams on a single. Jade Caraway drove in Hoover before Lindaman capped off the scoring with a bases-loaded walk.

B4 | Three-straight singles from Blake-Ann Fritsch, Baylee Klingler and Payton McBride loaded the bases before Danie Elder was hit by pitch, scoring Fritsch. Haley Lee singled to center which allowed Klingler to touch home. Kayla Garcia reached on an error as Madi Jatzlau, who pinch ran for McBride, scored. Morgan Smith and Kelbi Fortenberry recorded RBI singles to cut the lead to two.

T5 | Sipos homered over the left field wall to extend the Gators’ lead. FLA 8, A&M 5

B6 | Fortenberry reached base on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on a Fritsch single through the left side. Klingler’s single through the right side allowed Fortenberry to touch home. FLA 8, A&M 6

Top Offensive Players:

Morgan Smith| 2-for-2, RBI

Blake-Ann Fritsch| 2-for-4, R

Baylee Klingler| 2-for-4, RBI, R

Pitching Breakdown:

Kayla Poynter (4-6) – L, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 0 K, 3 BB

Hannah Mayo – 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 K, 2 BB

WHAT THEY SAID

Head Coach Jo Evans

On tonight’s game…

“That’s a tough way to start the game, putting up a seven-spot in the first inning. I’m really proud of Hannah Mayo. She came out and pitched a gem. She only gave up one earned run in six and two-thirds innings. We’ll take that any day of the week. I thought she played good defense. She gave our team a chance to get outs and went at hitters. I’m proud of our kids for fighting back. I think we learned that about ourselves a long time ago. We’re a team that’s going to fight. We’re not going to quit.

“I was very pleased with our hitters. We went through first round of at bats and we got one hit out of our lineup. Then the great thing was, we stuck to our plan. We didn’t divert or panic. We stuck with what we came to do. I thought we settled in nicely and hit through our lineup and it made a good difference for us tonight.

On Morgan Smith stepping up when called…

“She’s been great. I was talking to our team about that in our post-game talk. She’s done that so many times that it’s almost becoming expected. She’s a really tough kid and handles herself really well. I don’t think any moment is too big for her and she wants to be in that situation. I think she’s doing a really great job of understanding her role and embracing it and it’s made a big difference for our ball club.”

Freshman Pitcher Hannah Mayo

On her performance tonight…

“I went out there in the first inning trying to get out of that situation. The rest of the time I had a tremendous amount of confidence in my offense. I wanted to make sure I kept them in the game and gave them the chance to come back and possibly win a ball game.”

On what was working for her tonight…

“Coach (Kara) Dill called a great game and Dani {Elder} worked behind the plate really hard for me. We kept them off balance worked really well. The defense played a great game. There were lots of groundouts.”

ON DECK

The Aggies return to action for game two against the Florida Gators on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Davis Diamond.