LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 18th-ranked Texas A&M softball team (27-11, 8-6 SEC) dropped a 10-inning, 4-2 game at No. 12 Kentucky (30-8, 6-5 SEC), Saturday in the second game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at John Cropp Stadium. The series rubber match is set for a noon CT/1 ET start in front of a national audience on FSN South Sunday.
Texas A&M senior Emily Albus continues to be a catalyst at the plate, stretching her hit streak to 10 games with three base hits against the Wildcats. Her performance tonight was the 19th multiple-hit effort and the seventh three-hit game of the season for the Brenham, Texas, native.
The Aggies led 1-0 for the first four-and-a-half innings before Kentucky took its first lead of the series in the bottom of the fifth. After getting her first hit of the weekend in the top of the seventh, freshman April Ryan sent the game into extra frames as she scored on an error to tie the game at 2-2.
The Aggies continued to produce with two outs in game two, after scoring all six runs in game one with two marks on the board. In the top of the first with two outs, senior Nicole Morgan singled down the line in left after fouling off five pitches. Senior Cassie Tysarczyk took the cue in the next at bat and pounded a double to right-centerfield to plate Morgan from first for the early 1-0 lead.
Texas A&M also led early in game one, with a 3-0 advantage in the top of the first on a home run by senior Amber Garza.
The Aggies put runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth, but both were left stranded on the third out. Morgan led off with a walk and was replaced on the bases by pinch runner Allison Garrett. With two outs, freshman Abby Donnell hit the Aggies’ second double of the day to push Garrett to third.
Texas A&M held on to the one-run lead through four-and-a-half innings, but in the bottom of the fifth, Kentucky mounted a two-run comeback that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the series. UK loaded the bases with one out in the half-inning and used a base hit and a sacrifice fly out to take the 2-1 lead.
With the game on the line in the top of the seventh, the Wildcats quickly tossed two Aggie batters, but the bottom of the Texas A&M lineup produced what the Aggies needed. Coming through in a pinch Ryan had her first hit of the series, doubling to right field. With Ryan on second, Albus earned her second hit of the game with a bunt single to the pitcher, who overthrew first and allowed Ryan to score the tying run. UK was unable to produce a run in the bottom of the inning and the game entered extra frames.
Both teams went down in order in the eighth, forcing the game into the ninth inning. Senior Taran Tyler got on base with a single up the middle in the ninth but was left on base. Albus suffered the same fate in the top of the 10th after reaching on her third base hit of the game and moving to second on a sacrifice bunt.
In the bottom of the 10th, Kentucky put a runner on base with a single down the line in right before sending her to second on a sacrifice bunt. With one on base and one out, designated player Emily Gaines hit a walk-off home run over right field to give the Wildcats the 4-2 win and even the series at one game apiece.
In the circle for the Aggies, freshman Abby Donnell (4-3) threw 4 1/3 innings of relief, retiring 11 straight batters and allowing two earned runs on two hits while tossing two strikeouts for the loss. Sophomore Katie Marks started the game and struck out one batter while giving up two earned runs on seven hits and a walk.
UK reliever Kelsey Nunley (14-4) took the win after giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk while striking out five in four innings of work.
The Aggies and Wildcats will close out the series Sunday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET on FSN South. Cheri Kempf and Tom Werme will bring the action from John Cropp Stadium. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH JO EVANS
On the loss…
“I thought that our kids fought hard. I thought that it was a well-played game by both teams and they gave us an opening there in the seventh inning. It’s great getting out there and getting a run in the first inning. We had some opportunities that we couldn’t really take advantage of. I thought it was a real pitchers’ duel tonight. Katie Marks threw well. The one inning they just got a bunch of seeing-eye singles and then she hits a kid and they score the two runs. But aside from struggling that one inning, I thought Katie did a nice job. Abby came in and did a great job. We have a chance to win it there. We’ve got a chance with runners in scoring position and just can’t get it done. We had a lot of strikeouts in those extra innings and Nunley was throwing the ball hard. I thought she came in and did a nice job for them getting a different look. She was a lot different pitcher tonight than she was last night.”
On the Aggie defense…
“I think we’re playing great defense right now. We look really solid. We’re playing well behind our pitchers and they’re giving us a chance to make some outs. I feel really good about that. I think we’re taking advantage of every opportunity we have defensively to get outs and at least get us off the field and over there hitting the ball. I’m really pleased with our defense, and really I’m pleased with our fight tonight. I can’t be upset at my kids. They fought hard, they battled, they came back when they got down a run. These are games that are tough. This is where home field advantage is pretty helpful, for sure.”