FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 17 Texas A&M softball team (25-9, 6-5 SEC) swept a Saturday doubleheader against Arkansas (23-13, 2-6 SEC) at Bogle Park. The games were the first two contests of a three-game Southeastern Conference series, and the series finale is set for a 1 p.m. start Sunday.
Texas A&M took an 8-7 win in the first game of the twin bill, and topped Arkansas, 9-8 in game two. Arkansas committed 10 errors on the day and the Aggies took advantage of the chances.
It was an offensive battle in game one, with the teams scoring a combined 14 runs through the first four innings. The Aggies collected just six hits on the game, but took advantage of six errors by the Razorbacks.
Senior Emily Albus was the only Aggie to collect two hits on the game. Senior Nicole Morgan was 1-for-2 at the plate in game one, reaching base three times on walks – including two intentional walks. Freshman April Ryan and senior Amber Garza each went 1-for-4 at the plate with two RBI in game one.
The Aggies jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, with five runners reaching base on two outs. Morgan reached first on a base hit into the gap in centerfield, and was pushed to second when senior Cassie Tysarczyk drew a walk. Both runners sped home on a double down the line in left by Garza to gain the 2-0 lead.
A throwing error by the Arkansas third baseman put freshman Abby Donnell on base and allowed Garza to score the third run of the inning. Senior Jenna Stark also drew a walk, but was left on base with Donnell.
The Razorbacks loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, but the Aggies worked through two straight outs to get out of the frame unscathed.
Texas A&M also loaded the bases on one out, to no avail, in the top of the second. Junior Brittany Clopton and Morgan each drew walks, and Albus reached on a bunt single.
A pair of base hits and a three-run home run in the bottom of the second pushed the Razorbacks out to a 5-3 lead.
The Aggies regained the lead with a four-run top-of-the-third inning for a 7-5 advantage. Donnell led off with a second two-base error of the game and Stark was hit by a pitch to put two on base with no outs. A second error in the half-inning added Clopton to the base paths.
A two-out base hit lined up the middle by Ryan plated Donnell and Stark to tie the ballgame. The Razorbacks walked Morgan, intentionally, to load the bases for a second time and picked up their fourth error of the game when a wild throw home allowed Clopton and Ryan to score on a fielder’s choice, unearned, for the lead.
The Aggie defense found its groove in the bottom of the inning, retiring three straight batters thanks to two big catches by Ryan and a strikeout from pitcher Katie Marks.
Arkansas tied the ballgame for a second time in the bottom of the fourth. A two-run blast over left evened the score at 7-7.
After two fruitless innings by both teams, the game entered the seventh still knotted in a 7-7 tie. Senior Taran Tyler hit a one-out double to left and moved to third on a fly out.
With two outs on the board, Tyler scored on an error by the Razorbacks to give the Aggies the 8-7 lead. Albus reached on a bunt single, and an overthrow at first that allowed her to advance to second. The recovered ball was also overthrown as Albus sped to third. The senior was left on base with Ryan, who reached on a hit by pitch and Morgan, who drew her second intentional walk of the day.
The Razorbacks had no response as the Aggies took a one-run win in game one of the series. Donnell (4-2) took the win in her 15th game in relief of the season, allowing two hits and striking out one in three shutout innings. Marks hurled the first four frames, giving up seven earned runs on six hits and three walks while tossing two strikeouts. Arkansas’ Kimmy Beasley (3-3) suffered the loss, allowing one unearned run on one hit and a walk in 1 2/3 innings of work.
Game two also proved to be an offensive battle, with the teams going back-and-forth on the scoreboard. Albus was near perfect at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three infield hits – including two bunt singles – and a walk. The senior added an RBI and two runs to her impressive tally in game two.
Texas A&M took to the board early with a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Albus led off with a bunt single and moved to third on a walk and a fielder’s choice before a base hit through the right side by Tysarczyk plated Albus for the lead. A bases-loaded sacrifice fly out in the bottom of the inning tied the game for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on a solo home run over centerfield, but the Aggies quickly answered with a run of their own on a pair of errors in the top of the third. Morgan reached on a two-base error and advanced to third on a groundout before a second error sent her home to tie the game.
The draw didn’t last long, as the Razorbacks took a 4-2 advantage in the bottom of the inning on a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the fourth when the Aggies slowly worked back into a lead. Albus and Clopton each hit RBI infield singles and Morgan and Tysarczyk added sacrifice fly outs for the 6-4 edge.
A solo home run by the Razorbacks in the bottom of the fourth cut the two-run lead in half, but the Aggies rallied with a run of their own in the top of the fifth. Donnell led off with a base hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before Tyler hammered a double to the wall in left to send the freshman home.
A pair of walks and the Razorbacks’ fourth error of the game – the 10th of the day – gave the Aggies a 9-5 lead in the top of the seventh. Senior Jenna Stark led off with a four-pitch walk and was replaced on the bases by sophomore Alex Masek. Another walk put Tyler on base before a sacrifice bunt advanced the pair into scoring position. Albus bunted and reached on a throwing error, picking up one RBI as Masek and Tyler scored. Tyler’s run was unearned.
A three-run home run – the fifth blast of the day for the Razorbacks – gave Arkansas a chance as it brought the game to a 9-8 score in the Aggies’ favor in the bottom of the seventh. Donnell immediately retired three batters with a groundout and a pair of strikeouts, however, to end the game with a second straight Texas A&M win.
The freshman earned her fifth save of the season with a three-inning relief outing, giving up three earned runs on two hits and two walks while fanning three batters. Marks (12-1) earned the win, tossing one perfect inning. Junior Rachel Fox started the game, allowing five earned runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
Arkansas’ Kelly Young (3-3) suffered the loss after she allowed four earned runs on four hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings of work.
The Aggies and Razorbacks will close out the three-game SEC series Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Bogle Park. Listen to the game live on AggieAthletics.com. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.