SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 11 Texas A&M softball team (2-0) started the 2014 season with a bang at UC Santa Barbara’s Gaucho Classic I, mounting a 10-4 comeback win against Dayton (0-2), and run-ruling UCSB (1-1), 9-1 in five innings.
The team scored 19 runs in 12 total innings of play, including three home runs, five doubles and nine base hits. Freshman April Ryan earned the first two starts of her career and proved herself, both at second base and at the plate with four hits – three of them doubles – and five RBI.
Senior Emily Albus had four hits, three runs and two RBI, and senior Amber Garza had three runs, three hits and three RBI, including two solo home runs.
“I feel pretty good about our ball club,” Head Coach Jo Evans said. “We had some mistakes early-on in the first game and that was just being overexcited and a little bit of jitters. I loved the way we calmed down.”
Fresh off of an extra-inning, walk-off loss to the Gauchos, Dayton turned a new page and took a 2-0 lead on the Aggies in the top of the first. A two-out double to centerfield scored a pair of runs for the Flyers, one of them earned.
In her first collegiate at bat, Ryan placed a double perfectly in the middle of three Dayton defenders to reach in the bottom of the first. The second baseman was the only Aggie to reach in the inning.
After causing a fielding error in the top of the first, Garza found her footing in the bottom of the second when she recorded the Aggies’ first home run of the season with a leadoff long ball over dead-centerfield to narrow the deficit to 1-2.
With one out, senior Cassie Tysarczyk followed suit with a solo shot over right field to tie the ballgame.
“[Aggie pitcher] Katie Marks got roughed up a little bit in the first inning and I was really impressed with how she handled that,” Evans said. “She took it in stride, came out the next inning, shut them down and then Garza hit a home run and so did Tysarczyk to get us right back in it. They worked so hard to put those two runs together and then we just put a couple of solo shots up and all of a sudden the game is tied again.”
The Aggies gained the lead with a three-run bottom-of-the-fourth inning. Each run was unearned after a two-base throwing error by the Dayton second baseman allowed the first two runs, by seniors Allison Garrett and Tysarczyk. Senior Jenna Stark singled to left field to reach before being replaced by Garrett, and Tysarczyk was hit by a pitch.
Senior Taran Tyler singled to left to reach behind Tysarczyk and Garrett before the errant throw scored the duo. With bases loaded, senior Nicole Morgan popped up to the second baseman but gave Tyler time to tag at third and run home for the unearned 5-2 run.
Dayton narrowed the gap in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs on three base hits, a walk and a groundout. In her first outing as an Aggie, sophomore transfer Katie Marks fanned the final batter of the half-inning.
Leading 5-4 in the bottom of the inning, Garza hit her second solo home run, this time over right field to start a rally by the Aggies. Tysarczyk drew her second free ride of the day and took third on a double to left by Tyler. With two on, sophomore pinch runner Breanna Dozier claimed the first pitch and sent it to deep centerfield to plate two runs.
Albus bunted and reached on a base hit before Ryan ended the scoring rally with a two-RBI double to left-center field that gave Texas A&M a 10-4 lead.
The Flyers were unable to respond to the six-run deficit and the Aggies earned their first win of the season.
Marks (1-0) earned the win after a five-inning effort in the circle. The sophomore allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks, while fanning two. Freshman Abby Donnell pitched two innings of relief, striking out two and giving up two hits. Dayton’s Kayla English suffered the game-one loss, letting seven earned runs cross home on four walks and 11 hits while striking out two.
The Aggies continued the momentum against UC Santa Barbara in game two, batting through the lineup and scoring six runs in the top of the first inning.
Albus led off with a single up the middle and was followed on base by Ryan, who hit a single to the shortstop. With two on, Morgan added a third base hit to score Albus from second.
A fourth base hit, by Garza, sent Ryan and Morgan around the bags for the 3-0 lead. Tysarczyk and Tyler each added base hits, with Tyler’s shot scoring Garza. A seventh single of the inning was Albus’ second hit of the game, which plated the final two runs of the first.
Ryan laced a bases-clearing double into left-centerfield in the top of the third to push the Texas A&M lead to 9-0. The hit scored Albus, Garrett – pinch running for Stark, who reached on a single - and Clopton. Albus reached on her third base hit in three innings, bunted to third base, and Clopton drew a walk.
The Gauchos used a pair of base hits to get on the board in the bottom of the third with the 9-1 run.
In the top of the fifth, Tyler hit a triple deep to right field. The senior was stranded in the half-inning, however and the Aggies maintained their eight-run lead.
Redshirt junior Rachel Fox (1-0), who started her career at Texas and defeated the Aggies as a freshman, earned her first win in the maroon and white with the complete-game effort. The Sugar Land, Texas, native gave up just one earned run on four hits and one walk while striking out five.
“I thought our pitching looked really good,” Evans said. “Rachel Fox I thought was really terrific.”
UCSB’s Andriana Collins (0-1) gave up six runs in 1/3 innings for the loss.
The 11th-ranked Aggies continue their run in the Gaucho Classic I tomorrow with a 1 p.m. game vs. Bakersfield, and a 3 p.m. rematch with UCSB. Both games can be heard live worldwide on AggieAthletics.com or locally on Sports Radio 1150 AM. Live stats can be found at tamustats.com. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.