LEXINGTON, Ky. – Led by a first-inning home run from Amber Garza and a career-high nine strikeouts by Rachel Fox, the No. 18 Texas A&M softball team (27-10, 8-5 SEC) earned a 6-1 victory over No. 12 Kentucky (29-8, 5-5 SEC), Friday at John Cropp Stadium. With the win, the Aggies take a 1-0 lead in the three-game Southeastern Conference series with the Wildcats, and Texas A&M Head Coach Jo Evans is now just one win away from her 700th victory with the Aggies.
Game two of the series, set for a 5 p.m. CT/6 ET first pitch Saturday, will be aired locally and in open areas on FSN South. Check your local listings for availability.
Texas A&M took an early 6-0 lead in the first two innings, with each run coming with two outs, and never gave up the lead as the Aggies earned their fourth-straight SEC win. Senior Jenna Stark reached three of four times on the night and scored a run in a solid effort at the plate. Senior Cassie Tysarczyk was 3-for-4 with a pair of base hits and a double, two RBI and a run scored.
Fox (10-5) earned her 10th win of the season with a complete-game outing in the circle. The redshirt junior allowed just one earned run on five hits and a walk, while striking out a career-best nine batters.
A three-run home run over right field in the top of the first by Garza gave the Aggies an early 3-0 lead. Senior Emily Albus led off in the half-inning with a walk and a two-out single up the middle by senior Cassie Tysarczyk put two on base in time for Garza’s eighth blast of the year.
The Aggies added three more runs on two outs in the top of the second for a 6-0 advantage. Senior Jenna Stark pounded a one-out double to right field and was replaced on the base paths by pinch runner Allison Garrett.
Walks by freshman April Ryan and sophomore Cali Lanphear loaded the bases before back-to-back base hits from senior Nicole Morgan and Tysarczyk added three runs to the tally. Morgan’s shot to right-centerfield plated Garrett and Ryan, and Tysarczyk’s infield hit sent Lanphear home.
A fifth-inning solo home run by the Wildcats narrowed the Aggies’ lead to 6-1, but Texas A&M pitcher Rachel Fox shut down two straight to end the inning with the home team trailing by five runs.
Despite putting runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings, the Aggies were unable to increase the lead, but it didn’t matter as Texas A&M earned its fourth-straight SEC victory with the game-one win over Kentucky.
UK hurler Kelsey Nunley (13-4) suffered the loss after giving up six earned runs on five hits and three walks in a two-inning start.
The Aggies and Wildcats will rematch on television Saturday with Texas A&M leading the three-game SEC series 1-0. The game will be picked up locally and in select open areas on FSN South. Check your local listings for programming. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH JO EVANS
On the win…
“I’m really proud of our ball club. We had to kind of check ourselves and bounce back from the other night. And we did. I thought we were really aggressive. I also thought we managed the strike zone very, very well in the early goings where we took some walks and got some big hits. Garza stepping up and getting that home run in the first inning is a big deal for us. Managing the game, I thought we really handled ourselves well and were in control the whole time. Certainly, Rachel Fox was dead-on.”
On Rachel Fox’s performance…
“I thought she and [Nicole Morgan] threw a really great game, just a gem of a game. No doubt about it – Rachel was in control the whole night. Stokes gets the one home run, that’s not a big deal to me. It’s going to happen. I just thought Rachel was dead-on. The umpire was very consistent in his strike zone and she used it to her advantage. She knew exactly where to throw the ball. I thought her accuracy tonight and location was spot-on. She knew exactly what she wanted to throw and she wanted to throw it, and kept the ball down, kept them off balance. She was as good as I’ve seen her. I’m really excited for her and I thought she and Nic worked well together. That presence on the mound – that’s going to lead your team. That’s exactly what our team needed after that loss the other night that we didn’t feel too good about.”