Murray’s Grand Slam Nearly Leads Late Rally Past No. 10 Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – After being down 9-1 the top of the fifth, Texas A&M came up just short of completing a comeback over the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats on Monday night at John Cropp Stadium, falling 9-8. Kyndall Murray highlighted the Aggies’ fight, recording her first collegiate hit with a grand slam to pull Texas A&M within three in the top of the sixth.

The Aggies drop to 16-9 overall 1-2 in the SEC, with the Wildcats improving to 19-4 and 2-1 in the conference to clinch the series.

After a pair of walks and an A&M fielding error, the bases were loaded for Autumn Humes in the bottom of the first inning. Humes cleared the bases with a two-out grand slam to put the Wildcats on top 4-0.

Texas A&M answered back in the top of the second inning with a Dani Elder solo home run, her second of the series.

Kentucky quickly added to its lead in the bottom of the frame after a leadoff bunt, hit by pitch and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third. A single up the middle put the Wildcats ahead 5-1, but another walk would load the bases. The SEC leader in home runs Mallory Peyton, gave the Wildcats their second grand slam of the evening as Kentucky led 9-1 after two complete.

The Aggies scratched across a run in the top of the fifth to extend the game. A Kentucky fielding error, a walk and a fielder’s choice would put runners on the corners for A&M and Morgan Smith’s fielder’s choice plated a run to make the score 9-2.

Kentucky threatened to end the game early in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff triple, but back-to-back groundouts and an inning-ending strikeout by Ashley Daugherty gave the Aggie bats another chance at the plate.

With two outs, Elder reached on a Kentucky throwing error to get something going for the A&M offense. Jourdyn Campbell roped her 13th double of the season down the left field line and Ashlynn Walls walked to load the bases. Kyndall Murray had a memorable at-bat recording her first collegiate hit on a grand slam over the left field fence to pull the Aggies within three, 9-6

Texas A&M continued to fight in the top of the seventh with a leadoff walk by Morgan Smith. Haley Lee moved Smith to third with a double to the left center wall. Dani Elder pulled the Aggies within one with a chopper over the Kentucky third baseman to score two runs. Back-to-back singles by Elder and Walls kept A&M alive to load the bases for Murray yet again. With two outs and a 3-2 count, Murray lined out to left center, as Kentucky would pull away with a 9-8 victory.

Kendall Potts, Hannah Mayo, Ashley Daugherty and Payton McBride all split time in the circle, with Potts getting the loss. Daugherty pitched 2.0 innings of work to extend the game, leading the pitching staff with three strikeouts.

KEY INNINGS

B1 | Bailey Vick walked and Rylea Smith reached on an A&M fielding error. Both runners moved on a wild pitch and the bases would be loaded after Alex Martens walked. Autumn Humes hit a grand slam to centerfield. UK 4, A&M 0

T2 | Dani Elder homered to left field. UK 4, A&M 1

B2 | Tatum Spangler got on base with a leadoff bunt and Kayla Kowalik was hit by a pitch. Bailey Vick advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Rylea Smith singled up the middle to score Spangler. Alex Martens walked to load the bases and Mallory Peyton cleared the bases with home run to left center. UK 9, A&M 1

T5 | Meagan Smith pinch hit for Ashlynn Walls and reached on a Kentucky fielding error. Walls would reenter to run for Meagan Smith. Shaylee Ackerman pinch hit for Kyndall Murray and walked. Murray also reentered to run for Ackerman. Kelly Martinez reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced Walls to third. Morgan Smith reached on a fielder’s choice and Walls scored. UK 9, A&M 2

T6 | Elder reached on a Kentucky throwing error. Campbell doubled down the left field line and Walls walked. Murray pulled the Aggies within three with a grand slam. UK 9, A&M 6

T7 | Morgan Smith walked and Haley Lee doubled to the left center wall to put runners at second and third. Dani Elder plated both runners chopping one over the Kentucky third baseman for a single. UK 9, A&M 8

Top Offensive Players:

Dani Elder | 2-for-4, 2 H, HR, 3 RBI

Kelbi Fortenberry | 1-for-4, 1 H

Jourdyn Campbell | 2-for-4, 2 H

Kyndall Murray | 1-for-3, HR, 4 RBI

Pitching Breakdown:

Kendall Potts (5-5) – 1.1 IP, 9 R, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 SO, 4 BB

Hannah Mayo – 1.2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 SO, 0 BB

Ashley Daugherty – 2.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 SO, 1 BB

Payton McBride – 1.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 SO, 0 BB

WHAT THEY SAID

Head Coach Jo Evans

On the last three innings…

“I’m really proud of our kids. We got ourselves down in the first two innings and Kentucky had a couple of bombs, but I just really love the way our kids fought. That was the message the whole game. I don’t care what the score is right now, but we’re going to show character and we’re going to show fight. There’s no way we’re going to back down right now. We scored nine runs in game one. We scored six runs in game two to win and we can score those nine runs. I’m proud of our kids because they didn’t quit.”

On Kyndall Murray’s grand slam…

“You get your first collegiate hit and how about a grand slam? Let’s just do that. We played Kyndall all weekend and she’s had quality at bats. She hadn’t had a hit, but she’s had quality at bats. If you’re mature enough to understand that you are getting quality at bats, you don’t feel discouraged or take yourself out of it. You just know every at bat builds on to the next one and I think that’s what you saw. You saw a kid who didn’t feel sorry for herself. She actually was striking the ball really well and coming up just huge in that situation. I’m really proud of Kyndall Murray.”

ON DECK

Texas A&M returns to College Station to host Texas State on Wednesday, March 11 at 6 p.m. at Davis Diamond.

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