COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M Head Coach Jo Evans earned the 700th win of her Aggie career as the 21st-ranked Texas A&M softball team (28-12, 9-7 SEC) earned a 4-1 upset win over No. 4 Tennessee (33-6, 9-4 SEC) on ESPNU Friday in the first game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Associate Head Coach Joy Jackson also celebrated the 700th win of her career at Texas A&M with the win, after joining Evans in College Station in the fall of 1996. Evans reached the 1,000th win of her career on March 1, becoming the only active SEC head coach with 1,000 Division I wins.
Redshirt junior Rachel Fox (11-6) had a solid night in the circle, mounting an eight-strikeout performance for the win. The Sugar Land, Texas, native’s eight Ks were the second most of her career with the Aggies. She allowed just one earned run on four hits and a walk through seven complete innings.
Senior Cassie Tysarczyk’s first-inning home run over right field gave the Aggies a quick 3-0 jump on the Lady Volunteers, who weren’t able to rally against the efficient Texas A&M defense. UT’s lone run came from a one-run home run in the top of the fourth inning, but Aggie senior Jenna Stark added a solo shot over left in the bottom of the inning to seal the deal.
Junior Brittany Clopton and freshman April Ryan each contributed hits for the Aggies in the four-hit outing. Tennessee also had four hits on the night.
Clopton started things off with a first-inning laser to left field, speeding around the bases for a standup triple. Senior Nicole Morgan was hit by a pitch to reach in the next at bat, and with one out on the board Tysarczyk pulled ball high over right field to clear the bases with a three-run home run that landed in the median on Olsen Blvd.
The Lady Vols didn’t get a runner on base until the top of the third when a base hit through the left side sent Cheyanne Tarango to first but no further. A solo home run over left field in the top of the fourth by Madison Shipman gave UT its only run of the night.
Stark’s lob over the video board in left field quickly soothed the sting of Shipman’s line drive, however, and the Aggies held on to their 4-1 lead through the end of the game.
Fox never allowed more than one runner on base at a time, and besides Shipman’s jog around the bags, no UT runner advanced past first with the Aggie defense doing their part to back up the ace’s dominant showing.
Tennessee hurler Ellen Renfroe (22-3) suffered just the third loss of her career after allowing two home runs in a four-hit game. The senior gave up four earned runs while striking out six batters in the complete-game effort.
The Aggies and Lady Vols are back in action Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will not be televised, but can be heard worldwide on AggieAthletics.com. Sunday’s series finale will return to ESPNU. 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 over Tennessee…
“We did need that. I think we’ve been playing pretty well of late, but letting a few slip away from us. Tonight we came out very aggressive and showed great tenacity and intensity – the things that you want when you get back home and you’re finally off the road. Our crowd was great. They were in it all night and kept us in it. I thought it was a good atmosphere tonight.”
On Fox’s performance in the circle…
“She was terrific. I thought at Kentucky she threw the game of her career at A&M, and I thought tonight that she surpassed that. At one point, I think it was the fifth or sixth inning, I’m thinking, ‘Man, this kid hasn’t thrown very many pitches.’ I thought she was in control all night. She was ahead of hitters all night. Very rarely was she behind hitters. No free passes. She just looked in complete control, complete command. Even the one Shipman hit out, it was more off the handle. That kid is just so strong and it’s a short wall out there in left. I just thought that she was absolutely terrific. I love her presence on the mound. She’s just a bulldog out there. There was definitely a fire in her belly tonight.”
On the Aggies’ first inning…
“Brittany got all of that. She did such a nice job, too, of getting on top of the ball and finding a gap out there, and got a good read for herself to get a triple out of that. She was really fired up. I loved seeing her get over to third and pump her fist and get the dugout in it. I thought that was great for our team to get a start like that. A lot of times we’re counting on [senior leadoff hitter Emily Albus] and she didn’t get herself on, but it was OK. Brittany stepped up and did a nice job. [Nicole Morgan] draws the hit-by-pitch and Cassie is the only one up there in that situation and she’s feeling good. That kid works so hard. She does a nice job hitting behind Nic when she’s got those opportunities and I know in her mind she’s thinking ‘All I’ve got to do is hit a fly ball right here.’ The one that went yard was just a bonus. She did a great job with her at bat.”
On Jenna Stark’s home run…
“Of course Cassie’s home run was huge to get us the score early, but to me Jenna Stark’s home run was a huge difference-maker. They cut the lead to two, they could be feeling good about themselves. Instead, in the exact inning, they go back out and Jenna Stark hits the home run and Tennessee is back at square one and down by three. I thought Stark’s home run was huge for us and really a confidence boost for Rachel to still have that three-run lead.”
On freshman Reagan Boenker’s start at third base…
“She really did a solid job and she’s got a lot of range, so you’re seeing her go after balls that are probably routine balls for [shortstop Taran Tyler]. At one point [Taran] said, ‘Are you ever going to let me get a ball?’ The one that went off [Boenker’s] glove, Taran was great. The senior walks up and says ‘Hey, that’s my ball.’ And afterward I talked to the two and I said ‘Reagan, I still want you to go for the ball. Be explosive, and if Taran wants it she’ll call you off.’ The very next inning, she got out there and we had the same type of play. She went and got it and I don’t think Taran would have been able to make the play, so I was really pleased with their communication and their teamwork. It’s a great opportunity for Reagan to be out there. Of course we miss [senior Amber] Garza. We want her in our lineup, but we refer to these as golden opportunities and that’s what Reagan has right now. She did a good job and she showed her team that she can get out there and play the game.”