May 8, 2011
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - A five-run fourth inning rally gave the No. 22 Texas A&M softball team (39-13, 11-5 Big 12) their first lead of the game as the Aggies defeated No. 16 Oklahoma State (37-14, 8-7 Big 12), 7-3, Sunday in the conference series finale at the Aggie Softball Complex. The victory completed a two-game Big 12 sweep of the Cowgirls and broke the Aggies' home winning streak with a 22-game romp.
"We're learning a lot about ourselves and who we thought we'd be as a team the entire year," head coach Jo Evans said. "That's something you just have to grow into. Sometimes you're lucky enough to have it start right out of the gates and sometimes you have to work into it and grow into who you're going to be as a team. I was really proud of our kids."
The Aggies rallied from a shaky start after OSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Cowgirl third baseman Mariah Gearhart took a pitch to the body in the first frame to reach base, and stole second before Alysia Hamilton's double to deep center field pushed Gearhart home. Hamilton scored on a wild pitch to add another run to OSU's tally.
"It was so uncharacteristic of us in the first inning," Evans said. "We walk somebody, we hit somebody, we make an error, we catch a ball that we take out of play. I mean, what else is going to happen? We throw a wild pitch and they score. And you look at it, they only score two runs. To me, [sophomore pitcher] Mel [Dumezich] just had to settle into it and we just had to sort of elevate our game. I thought our kids did that. I was just really pleased with us pressing."
In the bottom of the second, senior Kelsey Spittler went yard for a solo bomb to right field that narrowed the gap to 2-1. The long ball wasn't enough to even the score and the Cowgirls pulled ahead to 3-1 in the next half-inning with a solo home run of their own.
Freshman Cassie Tysarczyk added a second solo home run for the Aggies in the bottom of the third, pinching the OSU lead to 3-2 as the four bagger topped the fence down the right field line.
"I had a nice chat with Cassie before the game and talked to her about who I think she is as a player and how I thought that her approach wasn't that person and that hitter," Evans said. "For her to step in there and take what I had to say as constructive criticism in helping her get better was great. She just goes in there and takes care of business. I thought she was much more of a controlled hitter today and more comfortable at the plate."
With A&M still trailing by one run in the bottom of the fourth, Dumezich reached on a fielder's choice that put a second out on the board. Tysarcsyk was hit by a pitch that put runners on first and second before redshirt junior Natalie Villarreal singled up the middle, scoring Dumezich and sending Tysarczyk to third.
Cowgirl first baseman Julie Ward tried to cutoff the throw from center to home but knocked the ball out of play as Villarreal ran to second on the error. The 3-3 tie broke when Tysarczyk scored on a single slapped high over the pitcher's head by sophomore Brittany Walker.
Senior Rhi Kliesing sealed the inning and the win with her 16th home run of the season, a three-run blast over left center that gave the Aggies a 7-3 lead.
"Yesterday I told [Rhi], `You look exactly like you. That's what I'm used to seeing from you, even though you didn't get a hit,'" Evans said. "And then she goes out today and goes [opposite field] and hits one out. That was huge, obviously."
Oklahoma State threatened to rally in the top of the seventh. Designated player Ari Morrison singled to left-center to open the inning and took second on a single to left by Hamilton. Chelsea Garcia sent a ball to Walker, who quickly tagged second and zipped a throw to Kliesing who was poised at first for the double play as Morrison took third. With two outs and runner in scoring position, center fielder Tamara Brown popped out to end the game, giving A&M a 7-3 victory and its program-best 22nd-straight win at home.
Dumezich improves to 25-8 on the season with the victory. The Whiting, Ind., native struck out five opponents and allowed two earned runs on five hits. OSU's Simone Freeman (9-6) suffered the loss, giving up five earned runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings in the circle.
Up next the Aggies host Texas Tech in the final two games of the regular season. The Big 12 series will be played next weekend with Friday's game beginning at 6 p.m. and a noon first pitch slated for Senior Day on Saturday. For more information on Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com.