SHSU goes 1-1 in College Station, snaps 51-game losing streak vs Texas A&M
Sam Houston State University softball faced off against the Texas A&M University Aggies Wednesday for a double header in College Station and split the two games. The Bearkats dropped the first game 4-3 on a walk-off, but bounced back in the finale to win 6-3 and break a 51-game losing streak to TAMU.
Senior Karina Sanchez took the circle and set the tone by working around a one-out single in the first inning to strand a runner thanks to a big strikeout. The Kats flashed some leather in the bottom of the second when freshman left fielder made a diving catch to start the frame. Sanchez continued her dominance and started the third inning by battling back from a 3-0 count to pick up her second strikeout of the afternoon.
Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively for the first four innings. The Kats and the Aggies each had two hits through the first four of a scoreless game. The teams exchanged two-out doubles in their respective halves of the fifth, but both clubs left the runner stranded as the game remained 0-0 heading into the sixth inning.
Senior center fielder Megan McDonald did her job leading off the sixth inning, singling up the middle on a full count. Senior Tiffany Thompson eventually replaced her after a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The Kats cracked the score column first on a two-out fly ball to left field that Makinzy Herzog dropped, allowing Thompson to cross the plate.
SHSU took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. The top of the Aggies lineup made it interesting with back-to-back singles to begin the frame. After a wild pitch allowed the tying run to score, Jourdyn Campbell gave TAMU a 3-1 lead on homerun to dead center.
SHSU refused to go quietly, however, as sophomore third baseman Kyndal Kutac doubled to lead off the seventh and SHSU loaded the bases. After a long battle at the plate with two outs, Thompson hit a bouncer to short that led to an E6 and tied the game at three apiece.
With one out and a runner on third, TAMU hit a ground ball to second and scored the winning run on a very close play at the plate to walk it off 4-3.
Sanchez battled the entire way in the circle allowing four earned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts.
“I just love Karina,” head coach Garrett Valis said. “She throws a lot of strikes…and changes eye levels and challenges hitters to adjust to her. She really just doesn’t give in. I was excited for her to be able to perform that way on this stage.”
McDonald finished with a pair of hits in four at bats and raised her average to .404.
Sophomore righty Regan Dunn took the mound in game two, and the Aggies manufactured a run in the first inning and jumped out in front 1-0 without the benefit of a hit. SHSU immediately responded, though, in the top of the second with an RBI-single by senior catcher Hunter Ervin that scored junior right fielder Sheridan Fisher to tie the game. Junior left fielder Kayte Martinez walked to load the bases for McDonald who singled to left and gave SHSU a 2-1 lead. The Kats left the bases loaded after back-to-back strikeouts, but took a one-run lead into the bottom the second.
“They got a run early,” Valis said. “For us to get it back right away and be able to put some pressure on them is a good thing. I think the biggest thing even though we left some kids on there we showed them we’re going to be in a pressure situation and keep coming.”
That lead did not last long as Ashlynn Walls singled home a run to make it 2-2. With two on and two out, a throwing error by Thompson led to another run that put the Aggies on top 3-2. Dunn struck out the next batter and stranded runners on second and third to keep it a one-run deficit heading into the fourth inning.
After a leadoff walk to freshman first baseman Emily Telg, back-to-back, two-out RBI-singles by McDonald and Thompson erased the deficit as the Bearkats jumped out in front 4-3.
The Kats tacked on a couple more runs in the top of the fifth after two errors by TAMU. Dunn gave way to junior Annie Bailey in the circle who walked back-to-back batters and loaded the bases with nobody out. A popout and a clutch 1-2-3 double play kept the Aggies off the board and preserved a 6-3 lead.
“My first instinct was to go for it,” Bailey said about the double play ball. “It was super exciting. I was just grateful that we had the opportunity.”
Bailey finished off the game with three scoreless innings surrendering just two hits. McDonald picked up multiple hits in both games, going 2-for-4 in the nightcap with two RBIs.
SHSU (7-10, 0-0 SLC) returns home for the Bearkat Invitational Tournament against North Dakota State University Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon. The Kats will also battle Louisiana Tech University Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30a.m.