KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 4 Texas A&M softball team dropped a 4-5 walk-off decision at No. 8 Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference series finale, Sunday at Lee Stadium.
With the loss, Tennessee (27-6, 6-3 SEC) sweeps the series, 3-0, and is the first SEC series loss for the fourth-ranked Aggies (26-5, 4-4 SEC).
The Aggies rallied to tie the game in the top of the fifth on a two-run homer by junior Cassie Tysarczyk, but the jack wasn’t enough as Tennessee scored the walk-off run on an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
Tennessee used small ball to plate two in the bottom of the first on two base hits and a pair of walks.
The Aggies went to plate in the next half-inning and looked like the two-out fighters that earned a program-best start, battling to tie the game up at 2-2. Senior Mel Dumezich led off with a walk and moved to second on a high-hopping infield single by freshman Cali Lanphear.
With two outs, sophomore Brittany Clopton loaded the bases on a single placed in the gap in left field before a throwing error at third base put junior Emily Albus on first and plated Dumezich and Lanphear.
UT drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the second and scored a run on a double down the left-field line to regain the lead. With a 3-2 advantage, the Lady Vols added another run as a pop-out and an RBI single pushed the 4-2 run home before Dumezich caught the final batter swinging.
Working to regain a lead in the top of the third, the Aggies put two runners on base. Junior Nicole Morgan singled to left field with one out. In the next at-bat, Dumezich lobbed a ball into shallow right field. Morgan inched away from first base and as the ball landed took off to slide into second, but the slide was too late and she was thrown out in the fielder’s choice.
With Dumezich on first, junior Jenna Stark hammered a pitch to left field that looked like it was going over, but fell just short, into the glove of the UT left fielder for the third out.
A home run drilled to centerfield by Tysarczyk tied the ballgame at 4-4 in the top of the fifth. Albus reached on a bunt single and was plated on the bomb when the ball bounced on top of the 220 mark and dropped over the wall.
Senior Meagan May kept the mini rally going, taking a first pitch to the elbow to get on base before she was replaced to pinch run by junior Taran Tyler. Morgan also took a free base when she was walked and run for by freshman pinch runner Alex Masek. Tyler and Masek were stranded when UT got three straight outs to end the inning.
A&M shut the Lady Vols down in the bottom of the fifth and loaded the bases in the top of the sixth. Clopton reached on an infield single and was pushed to third by Tysarczyk, who sent a two-out base hit through the right side. Tysarczyk stole second before May reached on an intentional walk. The bases were juiced in the end of the half-inning, however and the game remained locked in a 4-4 tie.
With A&M looking for their first lead of the day, the game entered the seventh inning. Dumezich led off and pounded a ball to the wall, reaching with a double before sliding into third on the throw. The hurler was replaced at third by pinch runner Allison Garrett before Tennessee again retired three straight to end the half-inning.
A pair of base hits and a walk loaded the bases with no outs for UT in the bottom of the seventh before a third single, hit down the right-field line, gave the Lady Vols a walk-off win at 5-4.
The Aggies scored 16 runs on the stingy Tennessee pitching staff this weekend, but came up short in each game as the Lady Vols swept the series at 3-0.
Dumezich (18-3) took just her third loss of the season after giving up five earned runs on nine hits and four walks while striking out five. UT closer Ivy Renfroe (12-3) fanned two and gave up no runs on no hits and no walks in 2/3 innings pitched for the win.
The Aggies return home to host a nonconference game vs. Texas State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. before jumping back into SEC play with a three-game series against reigning National Champion Alabama, March 29-31 at the Aggie Softball Complex. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.