COLLEGE STATION – No. 22 Texas A&M Softball swept day two of the Texas A&M Invitational with a 1-0 victory against Liberty and a 7-6 comeback-win over Rutgers Saturday at Davis Diamond.
With the win over the Scarlet Knights, head coach Jo Evans became the 12th coach in NCAA Division I history to record 1,200 career wins.
Against Liberty, Riley Sartain and Payton McBride each recorded two hits as Haley Lee drove in the game’s only run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. McBride stymied the Lady Flames as the lefty allowed just five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in the shutout.
In nightcap, Texas A&M (8-2) took advantage of multiple pitching miscues as the offense drew five walks and four Aggies were hit by a pitch. In the bottom of the seventh, the Scarlet Knights committed three errors, allowing the Aggies to complete the comeback in dramatic fashion.
Kelly Martinez gave the Aggies an early lead in the second as the Yucaipa, Calif., native belted a grand slam, her first homer in maroon and white. Riley Sartain also hit a home run, her fourth of the season.
Kendall Potts earned the win to move to 2-1 on the season after throwing a 1-2-3 seventh inning in relief with a strikeout. Hannah Mayo earned the start as the redshirt freshman gave up three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts in 4.0 innings.
B6| Riley Sartain led off the inning with a double to left field before being pinch ran for by Taudrea Sinnie. Baylee Klingler moved Sinnie to third with a sacrifice bunt, before Haley Lee delivered sacrifice fly to center, plating Sinnie. A&M 1, LU 0
T1| Rutgers drew first blood as Anyssa Iliopoulos plated Jess Hughes on a double to left. RU 1, A&M 0
B2| After back-to-back walks from Payton McBride and Ashlynn Walls, Dani Elder was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kelly Martinez delivered with a grand slam to left. A&M 4, RU 1
T3| The Scarlett Knights responded with a run as Katie Wingert singled home Iliopoulos. A&M 4, RU 2
T4| Rutgers continued to chip away at the lead as Allie Yoffee roped a double to center, scoring Myah Moy. A&M 4, RU 3
T5| Rutgers tied the game in the fifth as Erin Collins plated Iliopoulos on a single to right. A&M 4, RU 4
B5 | The Aggies immediately regained the lead as Sartain blasted her fourth dinger of the season to left. A&M 5, RU 4
T6| Rutgers wouldn’t go away quietly as the Scarlet Knights responded with two runs in the six on RBI singles by Aleah Marra and Wingert. RU 6, A&M 5
B7 | Sartain led off the inning with a walk and was pinch ran for by Madi Jatzlau. Baylee Klingler then reached on an error, before Payton McBride was intentionally walked to load the bases. Back-to-back throwing errors by the second baseman and shortstop allowed the tying and game-winning run to touch home. A&M 7, RU 6
Top Offensive Players:
Riley Sartain | 3-for-6, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 R, BB
Kelly Martinez | 2-for-7, GS, 4 RBI
Payton McBride | 2-for-5, 2B, 2 BB, R
Payton McBride (5-0) – W, W, 9.0 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, BB, 2 K
Kendall Potts (2-1) – W, IP, 0 H, K
Hannah Mayo – 4.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
WHAT THEY SAID
Head Coach Jo Evans
On achieving her 1,200 wins…
“I had no idea, so it was a bit of a surprise for sure. When I think of 1,200 wins I have to reflect back on all the schools I coached at and all the great players I’ve had the good fortune to coach. In particular Texas A&M, being here for 23 years. I know that doesn’t happen very often for any coach to get to coach at a place like this with the ability to recruit great players, to be at a school you can win, and have the kind of support we have. It’s been fun. Coach (Joy) Jackson’s been here for the full 23 years, with one year at Utah, and it’s fun to have that kind of consistency and support. It’s a fun staff to work with. My family is a baseball and softball family, so we’ve traveled the world together playing ball. My mom was the one who had all the food for us. My sister was the scorekeeper and my dad was a coach, so it’s a family affair. I’m really grateful to be a part of a family like that.”
On what stood out in their defensive performance…
“The way we stayed in it. You look at these two teams that are out there on the field. When we had opportunities to make big plays we made them. Kelbi [Fortenberry] doing a great job on those relays from the outfield. I don’t remember in my entire career seeing a second basemen with three assists at home plate. Kelly Martinez was on the mark with every throw. The two from the outfield, she was a long way out there. Kid’s got a canon, throwing those two out at home plate. Dani Elder did a great job to hang on to the ball, too. You look at the difference in the game where Kelly gets the opportunity to field the ground ball, throw the girl out at home, and she makes the play. I always tell our kids you got to hang your hats on defense. Pitchers aren’t going to be perfect every day and you’re not going to be swinging great every day, so we have to be able to play defense. It’s the thing that you have the most control over. You have to make the outs when you get the opportunity.”
Junior Catcher/Utility Kelly Martinez
On her grand slam…
“I just wanted to get our team back into the game. I was just looking for a pitch to hit and drive in a run, and get us back to being tied up. Staying relaxed at the plate was also a key part at that. It felt really good off the bat and I hoped it was out, but I just kept running until I heard the crowd.”
On her game winning at bat in the second game…
“I just tried to stay on top of the ball so I could drive it through the infield or keep it on the ground to make the defense make a play. We noticed they were having a little bit of trouble. I wasn’t sure how hard it was, I was just hoping our runner at third was on their high horse and getting to home. I ran and watched our first base coach, and when I heard the crowd that’s when I knew we won.”
Senior Infielder Riley Sartain
On her hot hitting streak…
“There’s something about having momentum. There’s team momentum and personal momentum. That’s not something you always think about, but you do kind of get hyped up and that energy is still with you from defense. Even if you try to calm down it still exists. There’s going to be days when your dinky hits get through and those are your hits for the day. Then you’re crushing the ball and it gets caught. We try to not look too hard into the batting average and look more into quality at bats. That’s something if we can stay consistent with that’s going to be our biggest thing, drawing those walks when we can and making sure we get quality contact.“
On the key to win the two close wins…
“Just staying tough. We’re a team that’s going to fight through some tough wins throughout the year. It’s not always going to come easy, so we’re really excited we have to opportunities to fight now, and put it in our back pocket until we get into SEC play. “
On their dependable defense…
“We practice a ton. Especially with our field being pretty much brand new, that’s been one of our priorities at practice. Getting plenty of reps on situational work, with runners at different spots or balls hit at different spots. Whenever you play higher or faster than game speed, game speed slows down for you. That’s been something that’s been paying off out on the field.”
The Aggies close out the Texas A&M Invitational against McNeese at 12:15 p.m. The game can be heard locally on Willy 1550 AM.