AUBURN, Ala. – Despite a grand slam from senior Amber Garza, the 23rd-ranked Texas A&M Softball team (31-18, 9-13 SEC) dropped a 7-6 game at No. 22 Auburn (35-14-1, 8-11 SEC), Friday night in the first game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Jane B. Moore Field. The Aggies led for the entire game until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Tigers plated five runs on their own grand slam and a walk-off home run for the 1-0 series lead.
Texas A&M was led by eight hits and six RBI off the bats of seniors. Garza led the charge with four RBI on a pair of hits, and Cassie Tysarczyk added three hits and one RBI. Emily Albus was sharp while bunting, contributing two sacrifice hits and a bunt single.
The Aggies started the day strong with an early 4-0 lead on the Tigers after the top of the first, thanks to a one-out grand slam from Garza. Base hits from seniors Emily Albus, Cassie Tysarczyk and Nicole Morgan loaded the bases in time for the slugger, in the defensive lineup for the first time since an April 6 injury. Garza hung on through a full count to find the pitch she wanted, living up to her jersey number as she picked up four RBI on the blast.
Another senior – first baseman Jenna Stark – came through for the Aggies in the top of the third to stretch the Texas A&M lead to 5-0. Morgan hit her second-straight base hit of the day with one out on the board, and sped to second on a fielding error in center. Senior Allison Garrett entered to pinch run for Morgan at second and moved to third on a Garza single through the right side. Stark grounded out but gave Garrett plenty of time to score from third, unearned.
The Tigers answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the third to narrow the Aggies’ advantage to four runs. A sixth-inning RBI double added Auburn’s second run of the night.
Tysarczyk picked up an RBI on her third base hit of the game as the Aggies scored their final run of game in the top of the seventh. Freshman April Ryan led off with a double rocketed to centerfield, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Albus. Tysarczyk’s shot ripped through the left side, giving Ryan time to score the 6-2 run.
Determined to stay in the game, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh. A pair of base hits took high hops on Auburn’s firm infield to evade the Aggie defense. With the game on the line, third baseman Kasey Cooper hit a grand slam over right field to tie the ballgame, and in the next at bat, Branndi Melero hit a walk-off home run to the same spot for the 7-6 win.
Aggie hurler Rachel Fox started the game and tossed 6 1/3 innings for no decision, giving up six earned runs on eight hits and three walks with a career second-best eight strikeouts. Freshman Abby Donnell (5-4) suffered the loss after throwing eight pitches, allowing one earned run on one hit. Auburn’s Lexi Davis (18-9) earned the win, giving up five earned runs on 10 hits while fanning two.
The Aggies and Tigers will play game two of the SEC series Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. The live audio broadcast will be available worldwide via Sports Radio 1150 AM The Zone on AggieAthletics.com and RadioAggieland.com. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball onTwitter.