CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The No. 12 Texas A&M softball team battled to a 10-6 win over California (5-5) before dropping a walk-off, 3-2 game to No. 11 Nebraska (8-2), Friday at the Mary Nutter Classic.
The Aggies are now 11-4 on the season after the win over Cal and the hard-fought loss to Nebraska. Freshman April Ryan gave the Aggies a chance against the Cornhuskers when her seventh-inning home run tied the game and sent it to extra innings.
Texas A&M and Cal fought through a back-and-forth game, and the Aggies came out ahead with the 10-6 victory. Senior Emily Albus was 4-for-5 on the game with a run scored and three RBI, and Ryan was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.
The Aggie bats were hot in the top of the first as Texas A&M took a 2-0 jump on the Golden Bears. Albus led off with a single down the left field line and was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice that put freshman April Ryan on first.
Senior Nicole Morgan hit an RBI triple to right field that sent Ryan home from first before an errant throw from second went out of play and allowed Morgan to score the second run of the half-inning.
Cal left runners on base in the first and second innings, and took advantage of a two-on, one-out situation in the third with a three-run home run over left field for the 3-2 lead.
The home run lit a fire under the Aggie offense, as Texas A&M regained the lead in the top of the fourth and ended the half-inning with a 7-3 lead.
The Aggies loaded the bases in time for a double hit perfectly down the line in left field by Emily Albus. Albus’ shot scored a pair of runs for the 4-3 lead on the Golden Bears.
A two-RBI base hit up the middle in the next at-bat by Ryan pushed the Aggie lead to 6-3 before senior Amber Garza added a seventh run with a sacrifice fly out to right field that sent Ryan home for the final run of the half-inning.
The Golden Bears nearly matched the Aggies’ effort in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run on a sacrifice fly out and two more on a throwing error by Texas A&M. All three runners who scored reached on one-out base hits and helped Cal get within one run of A&M at 7-6.
Back-to-back solo home runs by sophomores Breanna Dozier and Cali Lanphear gave the Aggies a 9-6 lead on Cal in the top of the fifth. Dozier sent the second pitch she saw searing over dead-centerfield, before Lanphear followed suit with a bomb to right field.
Cal put two runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings, but a diligent Aggie defense sent the runners back to the dugout without crossing the plate.
In the top of the seventh, Dozier reached on a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Allison Garrett. Lanphear was hit by a pitch, and with two on Albus earned her third RBI of the game on her third hit – a single up the middle that plated Garrett for the 10-6 lead.
Aggie freshman starter Abby Donnell (3-0) earned the win after allowing four earned runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out one through 3 1/3 innings. Sophomore transfer Katie Marks (1) took her first save of the season when she allowed no earned runs on her watch, giving up one hit and walking two while adding six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of action.
Cal’s Nisa Ontiveros (3-2) suffered the loss when she allowed six earned runs on seven hits and a walk in her 3 1/3-inning start.
After an offensive battle with Cal, the Aggies entered a top-25 pitching duel with No. 11 Nebraska.
Nebraska struck first in game two, using a triple and an RBI single in the bottom of the second to take a quick 1-0 lead. The Cornhuskers loaded the bases after the run, but Aggie pitcher Rachel Fox struck out the final batter to end the inning.
The Huskers put two more runners on base in the fourth, but a double play turned by Tyler helped the Aggies out of the inning, unscathed.
Texas A&M put runners on base in the first six innings, but the Aggies were unable to produce a run. Albus reached third in the first inning after an infield single, and Morgan got as far as second in the third inning after reaching on a walk.
In the top of the fifth, Texas A&M loaded the bases but again was unable to push a run across the plate. Albus had her sixth hit of the day and her second of the game to lead off, but was thrown out at home on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice.
Nebraska loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, but the Aggies continued to fight through the jam, and ended the inning with the same 1-0 score in the Huskers’ favor.
With the game on the line in the top of the seventh, Ryan led off with a no-doubt home run over right field to tie the ballgame at 1-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Nebraska put two runners in scoring position but Fox caught the last batter swinging to end regulation in a tie and send the game into extra frames.
Senior Cassie Tysarczyk started the top of the eighth running at second base, per International Tiebreaker rules. An error on Nebraska put a runner on base and allowed Tysarczyk to score the 2-1 run, unearned, for the Aggies’ first lead of the game.
With Nebraska’s ITB runner on second, the Aggies allowed a second runner on base on a mental error that became a base hit. A hit-by-pitch loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice and an errant throw home tied the ballgame for the Huskers. Morgan turned a bases-loaded double play, however, and sent the game to the ninth inning in a 2-2 draw.
In the top of the ninth, freshman Reagan Boenker was the Aggies’ ITB runner at second. The rookie was picked off at second for the first out of the frame, and two more quick outs ended the half-inning with the game still tied.
A leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth quickly put two on base for the Huskers with no outs. A base hit up the middle was all it took, and Nebraska won on a walk-off, 3-2.
Fox (3-3) allowed just one earned run through a full game against the 11th-ranked Huskers, giving up 10 hits and walking three while tossing three strikeouts. Nebraska’s Tatum Edwards (4-1) took the win with a three-hit effort through nine frames.
The Aggies end play at the Mary Nutter Classic Saturday with an 11 a.m. CT/9 a.m. PT game against Cal State Northridge. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.