COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 15 Texas A&M softball team (22-8, 3-4 SEC) rallied from an early deficit to take the game into extra innings, but 14th-ranked Georgia (27-2, 4-0 SEC) took a 4-3, 10-inning win in the first game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series, Friday at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Freshman Abby Donnell was a catalyst for the Aggies, contributing a home run, an infield single, and the game-tying RBI on a double in the sixth inning while pitching three innings of relief. Senior Jenna Stark also had a big game with a home run of her own, a walk and a base hit that turned into the game-tying run. Senior Cassie Tysarczyk picked up her first triple of the season as she went 2-for-4 at the plate with a walk.
Adding to the Aggies’ performance were a pair of outfield assists from seniors Emily Albus and Tysarczyk. Albus’ throw from centerfield in the fifth stopped a Georgia runner as she attempted to stretch a base hit into a double, and Tysarczyk tossed a runner out at first on what would have been a routine base hit into right field.
The game got off to a rocky start as the first pitch thrown to UGA was slugged over the wall in left field for the 1-0 lead. A second solo home run, in the top of the second inning, stretched the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0. UGA added a third run to its tally in the top of the fourth when a pair of base hits and an error sent a runner home, unearned.
Texas A&M stranded five runners through the first three innings, but back-to-back home runs by Stark and Donnell brought the Aggies within one run of the visiting team.
Tysarczyk’s triple came in the fifth inning, but the right fielder and senior Amber Garza, who drew an intentional walk, were left on base.
Stark reached on a base hit chipped into centerfield in the sixth, and was replaced on the base paths by senior Allison Garrett. Donnell took the cue and sent a ball sailing to left for a standup double that allowed Garrett to score the tying run.
The Bulldogs put just one runner on base from the sixth-through-ninth innings as the Aggies kept their chance at a win alive.
Donnell reached for the third time of the night with an infield hit in the eighth and took second on a sacrifice bunt, where she was stranded as the game went into the ninth.
The Aggies put three on base and stranded two in the ninth, unable to win the game on a walk-off. In the top of the 10th inning, UGA had three-straight hits, including a double, to send the 4-3 run home before Texas A&M retired three consecutive batters.
A&M had no response in the final frame, retiring in order to drop the extra-inning battle to UGA.
Donnell (3-2) drew the loss, allowing just one earned run on three hits in three innings in the circle. The freshman tallied one strikeout to add to sophomore Katie Marks’ tally of five through a seven-inning start. Marks walked one batter and gave up two earned runs on seven hits.
UGA’s Chelsea Wilkinson (15-2) took the win with a complete-game effort, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits and six walks by the Aggies, including two intentional passes. Wilkinson struck out six batters through 10 frames.
The Aggies and Bulldogs will rematch Saturday at 4 p.m. CT in game two of the three-game SEC series. Listen to the entire series live on AggieAthletics.com via 95.1-3 The Zone HD. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH JO EVANS
On the game overall…
“I’m proud of how hard our kids fought. I thought they did a really great job of getting down three runs and not giving up, and coming back and getting the back-to-back home runs. They just really fought and I’m proud of them. I looked at the board and I see one error, and it’s the difference of the game. That’s a win in the seventh inning. We catch a ball on a steal, they don’t score, and we win the game 3-2. It’s those little things – just taking care of business. It’s the little things in the game that make all the difference in the world, and that was one of them for sure.”
On stranding runners…
“Georgia had an opportunity and they took advantage of it and put some hits together and scored. We shot ourselves in the foot when we had runners at two and three and nobody out. We had some strikeouts in big situations where we’ve got to be able to at least put the ball in play. Georgia fought hard. They did a nice job. They came to play. Their pitcher did a nice job. It was two teams that wanted to win and a really hard-fought game with pretty evenly-matched teams.”
On the bottom third of the batting order…
“I thought Abby was terrific tonight and Jenna got us going. We were feeling a little down, down two runs at the time, and she gets up there and hits a home run. She got all of it, and then Abby right behind her just crushed that ball. Those kids got some good looks up there. Towards the end of the game I wish Jenna had done a better job of staying back and going the other way. They just kept throwing her outside. Taran [Tyler] too. We’re trying to pull that ball instead of going the other way. Jenna had a good night and did a nice job, we just have to be able to make a little better adjustments as the game goes on. When the pitcher changes her pitching pattern, we have to recognize that.”
On Katie Marks…
“I thought she pitched really well. In fact, the first one the kid hits out is a routine fly ball that gets up in the jet stream. That’s why we don’t like playing with 190 straight across. And the next one too. Emily [Albus] is at the wall waiting for it to come down and it gets in the jet stream. They did a good job to hit those out, but I thought Katie made some really good pitches right there and it’s going to happen. What I liked is that she didn’t get discouraged and she didn’t get down. I think she recognized, ‘They’re not hitting me hard right now. I’ve just got to get the ball down a little bit.’ I loved that she didn’t panic and that she went out there and threw a really nice game. I thought she just got sharper as the game went on.”
On a solid performance in the outfield…
“They do such a great job. Cassie has got a great arm, and that kid hit the ball so hard that she had a chance to make a great play. [Emily] does such a great job of knowing where she is. She has such good awareness in terms of picking up a ball and throwing blind into second base, and almost got a kid the second time. Those outfielders – you can see they’re veterans. They’re seniors, they know what they’re doing out there. They’re playing the game the way you’re supposed to play.”