ORLANDO, Fla. - Senior Mel Dumezich threw her third career no-hitter as the fifth-ranked Texas A&M softball team (21-1) took a 5-0 shutout win over Illinois State (10-9) before defeating College of Charleston (7-5), 6-4 Saturday on day two of the Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Dumezich's no-hitter against the Redbirds was the third of her career and her third within the past two weeks. The right-hander also tossed a career-high 16 strikeouts on the win.
The Aggies got comfortable at the plate early against Illinois State. Junior Nicole Morgan recorded the first hit of the game when she placed a base hit perfectly in the gap in right-center field in the top of the first. Morgan was left stranded, but it didn't take long for A&M to get a run on the board.
On just the third pitch of the second inning, Dumezich found what she was looking for and sailed a ball over the fence in left-center field for the 1-0 lead on the Redbirds.
The Aggies loaded the bags in the top of the third inning, but were unable to capitalize on the chance as Illinois State pitcher Taylor Baxter fanned the final batter. Junior Emily Albus led off with an infield single and took second on a throwing error. Sophomore Brittany Clopton followed suit with a hard-hit single to the shortstop, and stole second. With two runners in scoring position, Dumezich drew a full-count walk to load the bases before the trio was left stranded on a strikeout.
A three-run bomb over right-center field took flight off the bat of freshman Cali Lanphear in the top of the fifth inning, and gave the Aggies a 4-0 lead. Albus again led off in the half-inning with an infield single and was joined on the bases by Morgan, who reached on her second base hit of the game. Morgan was replaced by junior Taran Tyler on the base paths. Tyler stole second before Lanphear found the perfect pitch and sent it over the wall for three RBI.
Dumezich (13-0) fanned a career-high 16 batters through seven innings of work for the no-hitter, walking two and hitting one batter. Baxter (5-3) gave up four earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three for the loss.
The Aggies rounded out their Texas Independence Day celebration with a 6-4 win over College of Charleston, despite a late rally by the Cougars.
In the top of the first, the Aggies drew three walks to load the bases before a Jenna Stark double through the right side sent two home for an early 2-0 pounce on the Cougars. Clopton and Lanphear scored on the play.
Three runs in the top of the third inning added a cushion for A&M. Dumezich and Stark each plated a runner on RBI groundouts before junior Amber Garza lined a home run over the fence in right field for the 5-0 lead. Both runs were unearned, as Morgan led off in the inning with a trip to first on an error by the second baseman. Garrett replaced Morgan on the base paths before Lanphear pounded a double into right field to put the pair in scoring position.
A&M didn't stop its offensive hunt there, and scored another run, unearned, in the top of the fourth to improve to 6-0 over the Cougars. Albus led off with an infield single and moved to second on an error that put Morgan on first. A walk by Lanphear loaded the bases before Dumezich grounded into a fielder's choice. The third baseman made a bad throw, and the error allowed Albus to score, unearned. Two straight outs left the bases loaded for A&M.
College of Charleston also loaded the bags in the bottom of the fifth, but the Aggie defense held Cougar runners on each base to maintain the 6-0 shutout.
The Cougars had a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn't enough to best the No. 5 Aggies. An error put one C of C runner on base before a home run sent the duo home to narrow the score, 6-2. A double to left-center plated two more before Dumezich entered to pitch and stopped the bleeding to give A&M a 6-4 victory with the save.
Ainsley (7-1) earned the win, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out four. Dumezich picked up her third save of the season after tossing two strikeouts and giving up one hit in one inning in the circle. C of C's Hope Klicker (4-3) suffered the loss, giving up two earned runs on four hits and three walks through 2.2 innings of work.
The Aggies round out tournament play tomorrow with an 8 a.m. CST game against Penn State. A&M will then make its SEC debut at Missouri with a three game series March 8-10. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.