NORMAN, Okla. – Aggie seniors left their cleats on home plate at Marita Hynes Field after the Texas A&M softball team’s (37-22) season was cut short by an 11-6 loss to No. 7 seed Oklahoma (48-10), on Championship Sunday at the NCAA Norman Regional.
This marks the Aggies’ 25th trip to the postseason, including 13 straight under Head Coach Jo Evans who has now coached Texas A&M to 18 30-win seasons in 18 years. Eight Aggie seniors ended their careers today – Emily Albus, Allison Garrett, Amber Garza, Nicole Morgan, Kaydee Rayburn, Jenna Stark, Taran Tyler and Cassie Tysarczyk each saw playing time in their career finale.
Texas A&M took an early advantage on OU, but the designated-visitor Sooners responded in the next half-inning and never relinquished the lead.
A two-run home run from senior Nicole Morgan in the bottom of the first gave the Aggies some wiggle room with a 2-0 lead on the Sooners. The shot over left field came with two outs after senior Amber Garza reached on a base hit to right-centerfield.
The two-run advantage wasn’t enough to cover a five-run top-of-the-second by the Sooners, however, and OU left the next half-inning with a 5-2 lead. A solo home run from the designated visitors cut the Aggies’ lead in half before a bases-clearing triple pushed OU into a 4-2 lead and an RBI base hit topped it off with a fifth run for the Sooners.
Texas A&M continued to battle, putting runners on base in the top of the second and bringing the game within one run in the top of the third. Senior Cassie Tysarczyk set the plate with a one-out double to right-centerfield, and was on base with two outs when senior Jenna Stark hit the Aggies’ second home run of the day. The laser hit the foul pole in left field and brought the score to 5-4 in the Sooners’ advantage.
Oklahoma answered the Aggies’ offensive push with a two-run home run of their own in the top of the fourth. The long ball came with two outs on the board and moved the OU lead to 7-5. With a runner on base after the blast, another Sooner shot went through the right side, but freshman April Ryan made a leaping catch to end the inning and keep Texas A&M in the game.
Senior Taran Tyler also had a big grab at shortstop in the top of the fifth, but the Sooners continued to expand their lead as they scored two runs in the half-inning on a double and two base hits.
Trailing 9-4, the Aggies recorded two quick outs in the top of the sixth before giving up a pair of back-to-back base hits and a walk to load the bases. Freshman relief pitcher Abby Donnell tossed a ground out for the final out, however, and sent the Sooners back to the dugout with no runs in the sixth.
The Sooners used their third home run of the day – a two-run blast over centerfield – to expand OU’s lead to 11-4 heading into the final half-inning.
Despite the large deficit, the Aggies continued to battle with a pair of solid pinch hits from senior Kaydee Rayburn and sophomore Breanna Dozier. Rayburn’s powerful speed helped her to a leadoff infield single and, with one out, Dozier sent a rocket over the fence in left field to narrow the OU lead to 11-6.
The two-run home run wasn’t enough for the win, however, and Oklahoma advanced to the NCAA Super Region with the win over Texas A&M.
Redshirt junior Rachel Fox (15-11) suffered the loss after allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and four walks while fanning two through four innings of work. OU’s Kelsey Stevens (35-7) threw a complete game for the win, giving up six earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out six.
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