May 20, 2011
Freshman Amber Garza had five RBI as the No. 16 seed Texas A&M softball team (42-13) run-ruled Sacred Heart (29-20), 10-2 in six innings Friday in the Aggies' first game of the NCAA College Station Regional at the Aggie Softball Complex. The win was the 900th of head coach Jo Evans' career and determined that A&M will face Syracuse (45-11) tomorrow at 1 p.m.
"I thought our kids came out and played well," Evans said. "We talked about being aggressive early on and making a statement in the very first inning, and we did that. Mel went out and took care of business, and we took our walks and I thought we showed great patience at the plate and Amber steps up and got the grand slam."
The Aggies wasted no time jumping out to a significant lead in the bottom of the first on a grand slam by Garza. The four-RBI bomb was the third baseman's second of the season.
Redshirt junior Natalie Villarreal opened the game with a leadoff walk and was sent to second on another four balls thrown to sophomore Meagan May. Senior Kelsey Spittler took a pitch to her back to load the bases before Garza sent the first pitch out of the park over left-center field.
Villarreal again reached in the bottom of the second, on a one-out double to left-center. Sophomore Brittany Walker joined her on base when she placed a fielder's choice at short. The SHU shortstop couldn't make a throwing decision, and Walker earned a base hit.
Spittler again loaded the bases, on a walk, before Garza picked up her fifth RBI of the night, walking to force the 5-0 run home.
The Pioneers didn't give up the fight, scoring two runs in the top of the third on a two-RBI single to left field by third baseman Annie Dreher. With the Aggies at a 5-2 advantage in the bottom half of the inning, sophomore Mel Dumezich singled through the left side and reached second on a bunt single by freshman Cassie Tysarczyk.
The right fielder just reached first before the throw from third went into left field, sending Dumezich in for an unearned run and Tysarczyk to third. A bunt single by Walker plated Tysarczyk, again unearned.
A second error by SHU allowed a run by the Aggies in the bottom of the fourth. Garza reached on a walk and took third on a single to right field by senior Rhi Kliesing. Emily Albus replaced Kliesing to run and the freshman stole second before a fielding error by the Pioneers' second baseman put Dumezich on first with Albus at third and plated Garza. Albus later flew home on an attempted double steal for the 9-2 run.
In the top of the fifth after starting as the Aggies' designated player, May moved behind the plate to catch. The sophomore missed 11 games in the middle of the season due to a broken finger sustained March 23 against Sam Houston State.
Redshirt junior Lindsey Sisk also entered in the top of the frame, taking her place in the circle. The right-handed pitcher shut down each of the six batters she faced in two complete innings, striking out two.
A solo bomb by Kliesing, her 17th long ball of the season, sealed the deal as the Aggies walked off the field with a 10-2 victory in six innings and a win under their belts in the 2011 NCAA Championship. The victory was also Evans' 900th of her career.
"It doesn't feel like just a number, I feel excited about it," Evans said. "I'm really excited it happened on ourhome field, I'm excited it happened in postseason, what a great way for us to start the postseason with a really big win, and it feels great to have my parents in the stands. I remember probably half of the wins, and probably all of the losses, so it's nice to have a win and celebrate that with our kids. I thought it was really generous of our players to give me a little hug, a little lovin' after the game. I just am really enjoying this team very much and I love coaching here at A&M. It's wonderful to get to 900, it makes me feel how old I am."
The Aggies will take on the Syracuse Orange tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the double-elimination regional at the Aggie Softball Complex. The winner of the College Station Regional will advance to the Super Regional next weekend and face the winner of the Tempe Regional being hosted by No. 1 seed Arizona State.