COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Marking the eighth 40-win season under Head Coach Jo Evans, the 16th-seeded Texas A&M softball team (40-15) stretched to a 12-0 five-inning run-rule of Penn (30-19), Friday in the first round of the NCAA College Station Regional at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The Aggies will face former Big 12 rival Baylor tomorrow at 2 p.m. CDT on ESPN. The winner of that game will advance to Sunday’s Championship Series. The Lady Bears also had a shutout win in day one of the NCAA Tournament, topping Arizona 7-0.
“I am very pleased with the way our ball club came out tonight,” Evans said. “I thought we had a great approach at the plate and we were disciplined. We were aggressive when we got strikes in the zone and took advantage of the mistakes that their pitchers made up in the zone. I like our attitude coming into it - we’re on a mission. We’re working hard to where we want to be and we understand that we only get where we want to be if we can take care of business against Penn.”
Senior Meagan May earned her third spot at the top of A&M all-time record lists, tying Aggie All-American Megan Gibson’s career RBI record at 183. May also owns the career home run record, which she stretched to 65 tonight, and the single-season home run record of 24 that she set as a freshman in 2010.
A&M put up five runs in each of the first two innings for a 10-0 lead that Penn couldn’t answer. Junior Amber Garza plated the first run of the day on a one-out RBI single to right-centerfield that scored junior Jenna Stark from second. Another base hit, by freshman Cali Lanphear put two on base before junior Nicole Morgan added a third-consecutive single to send Garza in for the 2-0 lead.
With two on base and still just one out, junior Cassie Tysarczyk pounded a home run over left-centerfield for three RBI and a 5-0 Aggie lead in the first. Tysarczyk, who still has one year of eligibility left, finished her undergraduate degree a year early and received her A&M diploma along with senior Sydney Shannon, today before the game in a special presentation by A&M President R. Bowen Loftin and A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman.
The Quakers couldn’t stop the bleeding in the bottom of the second, as A&M’s lead grew to 10-0. Tysarczyk picked up her fourth RBI of the night when her two-out single to right field plated Lanphear, who reached on her second base hit in as many at-bats. With two aboard, senior Mel Dumezich added her second base hit of the day to send Morgan and Tysarczyk home for the 8-0 lead. May’s two-run home run in the next at-bat pushed Dumezich across the plate for the Aggies’ ninth and 10th runs of the night.
A single run in the bottom of the third stretched the lead to 11-0 when Morgan pounded a base hit to left field and scored junior Emily Albus, who reached on a walk, from second.
A&M pinch hitters had successful outings in the top of the fourth. Junior Kaydee Rayburn reached on a single to left and Shannon hit a laser down the left-field line behind her, and freshman Breanna Dozier battled to draw a walk.
Sophomore Lauren Ainsley entered to pitch in the top of the third, and had to go into the nine-hole in the lineup, despite only having one career at-bat. With Rayburn and Shannon on base, the hurler hit a ball on the screws that flew through the left side and scored Rayburn for the 12-0 lead.
In 2012, Ainsley borrowed a bat and helmet against Iowa State when the Aggies ran out of substitutions and she was forced to hit with bases loaded. The then-freshman took advantage of the situation against the Cyclones and slugged a grand slam.
Penn got just one runner on base on the night when shortstop Stephanie Caso doubled down the left-field line in the top of the third.
Aggie hurlers Dumezich and Ainsley combined for a near-perfect game with the one-hitter, allowing just one runner on base through five complete frames. Ainsley (13-7) took the win after throwing three innings of relief, allowing one hit and striking out five. Quaker starter Alexis Borden (17-11) suffered the loss, allowing 10 earned runs on nine hits and two walks while fanning three in 1 2/3 innings in the circle.
A&M will play Baylor tomorrow at 2 p.m. CDT on ESPN. The winner of that game will advance to play in the Championship round on Sunday. A&M and Baylor have a lengthy history that started in 1980 and has culminated in a 58-21-1 all-time Aggie record over the Lady Bears through A&M’s final season in the Big 12.
To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.