SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Senior Nicole Morgan had a near-perfect day as the 11th-ranked Texas A&M softball team defeated Bakersfield (1-3), 14-8, and run-ruled UC Santa Barbara (1-2), 8-0 in six innings Saturday on day two of the Gaucho Classic I.
The Aggies amassed 22 runs on 24 hits, including four doubles and 5 home runs, with 22 RBI on the day for a .387 team batting average.
Morgan hit two grand slams – the fourth and fifth of her career – and a two-run home run against Bakersfield in game one to pull the Aggies out of a close, back-and-forth battle. The senior had 10 RBI on the game, with a walk and four runs scored. She was one RBI short of tying the NCAA record for a single game, and was one short of the tying the single-game home run record.
Morgan joins Aggie student assistant coach Mel Dumezich on the eight-person list of NCAA Division I players who have hit two grand slams in a single game. Cassie Tysarczyk added a fourth home run on the game and together the seniors accounted for 12 of the Aggies’ 14 RBI vs. Bakersfield. Both hit .714 on the day.
Bakersfield got the first spot on the scoreboard with an RBI single to right field in the top of the first. Aggie pitcher Rachel Fox fanned the final batter with two on base to end the half-inning.
The Aggies evened the score in the bottom of the first when a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch by sophomore Cali Lanphear forced in the 1-1 run. The run, scored by freshman April Ryan, was unearned due to a two-out error that put senior Amber Garza on base.
The Roadrunners regained a one-run lead in the next half-inning on another RBI single, hit to left field.
Texas A&M was efficient with two outs in the second, scoring three runs to take a 4-2 lead over Bakersfield. With senior Emily Albus on second, Ryan recorded the sixth RBI of her young career with a double to left field. Morgan followed suit in the next at bat but went the extra mile with a home run that gave the Aggies a two-run lead.
The game swung back to a Bakersfield advantage in the top of the fourth when the designated visitors scored three runs. A pair of hit-by-pitches put runners on base before an RBI single sent the first run home. The second run of the half-inning was unearned when the runner advanced home on a passed ball. The Roadrunners pulled ahead on the final run of the frame, sent home on a sacrifice bunt.
The Aggies answered with a two-run home run over centerfield by Tysarczyk in the bottom of the inning. The long ball plated junior Allison Garrett, pinch running for Morgan, who had reached on a walk. Tysarczyk’s bomb bounced on the top of the wall before dropping over.
A fifth-inning grand slam by Morgan pushed the A&M lead to 10-5. Junior Brittany Clopton reached base on a one-out infield single and was joined on the bags by Albus, who took first on a throwing error after a sacrifice bunt. A walk by Ryan loaded the bases before Morgan’s blast cleared right field.
Bakersfield took advantage of a pair of walks in the top of the sixth, scoring a pair of bases-loaded runs on an error and a base hit. A sacrifice fly out scored the third run of the half-inning when Tysarczyk caught the fly in right field and hurled a laser home that was a millisecond late for the attempted double play, and the Roadrunners narrowed the score to 10-8.
The mini rally wasn’t enough for Bakersfield, however, as Morgan hit her second grand slam in as many innings in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Taran Tyler, Clopton and Ryan scored on the play.
Aggie closer Abby Donnell shut down three straight to end the game, including a strikeout for the final out. The freshman earned her first career save with the 1 1/3-inning effort. Junior Lauren Ainsley (1-0) earned the win, giving up two earned runs on three hits and three walks in two innings of relief.
Bakersfield’s Lyndsay Klimenko (0-2) suffered the loss after allowing 12 earned runs on 12 hits and four walks in the complete-game effort.
In the second game of the day, vs. the hosting Gauchos, the Aggies got a runner as far as second base through the first three innings, but no further. In the bottom of the third UCSB hit a perfectly-placed triple down the left-field line, but the Aggies shut the inning down before any damage was done.
Texas A&M got on the board in the top of the fourth with an RBI single by Tysarczyk. The senior plated pinch runner Allison Garrett after Morgan reached on a walk. Garrett took second on a base hit by Garza before flying home on Tysarczyk’s shot.
Ryan hit the first home run of her young career in the top of the fifth. The two-run blast also pushed Albus – who slapped an infield single to reach first – home for the 3-0 lead.
The rally didn’t end there, however, as Morgan narrowly missed hitting her fourth home run on the day when a double to left-center hit the top of the wall and stayed in the park. Garza drew a walk behind Morgan and a Tysarczyk used a second-straight base hit up the middle to plate the 4-0 run.
The Aggies added four quick runs in the top of the sixth to stretch to an 8-0 lead on the Gauchos. Tyler singled and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Clopton. Albus also bunted and reached first for a base hit before a no-play fielder’s choice by Ryan sent Tyler home.
Morgan hit a second-straight double to the wall and plated both Ryan and Albus on the play. A double by Garza added the eighth run of the game when Morgan crossed the plate.
Bakersfield was unable to stop the bleeding and the Aggies continued their unbeaten streak with the 8-0 run-rule win.
Sophomore Katie Marks (2-0) earned the second win of her Aggie career with a complete game shutout in the circle. The Katy, Texas, native threw a three-hit effort with one walk and three strikeouts. UCSB’s Shelby Wisdom took the loss after giving up four earned runs on eight hits and two walks.
The Aggies close out opening weekend Sunday with an 11 a.m. CT game vs. Dayton. The contest can be heard live worldwide via 95.1-3 The Zone HD on AggieAthletics.com. To follow the live stats, go to tamustats.com. Keep up with the Texas A&M softball team all season by logging on to AggieAthletics.com and following @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH JO EVANS
On the day overall
“I’m pleased with the outcome. We had a few ups and downs today and I thought our kids rebounded really well in every instance. It’s a nice come away with two wins.”
On Katie Marks’ start in game two
“We needed that. We were struggling on the mound in the first game. That was clear. We really needed a pitcher to come out and establish herself, and establish the strike zone, and she was terrific. I loved her presence. You look at what Rachel [Fox] did yesterday and talk about her presence and poise and Katie matched that today. I thought her backdoor curve was really working well. She was hitting her spots. She did a nice job to keep the ball down, and let her team get her some outs.”
On Nicole Morgan’s outing against Bakersfield
“She was ridiculous. She was just in a zone. I thought she was really smart in her approach at the plate, taking what she could get, and she hit for great power. You can see that she feels really comfortable right now.”
On Morgan’s game vs. UC Santa Barbara
“If you hit the fence here, you would go yard anywhere else because this is the biggest ballpark we’ve played in in a long time. It would be easy for her to get distracted by all of it, or not stay locked in but she didn’t. Every single time up she was zeroed in and squared up.”