The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies’ season ends with heartbreaking loss to Longhorns

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Photo by CJ Smith
Texas A&M infielder Rylen Wiggins (2) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Sharper play in the sixth innings of Texas A&M softball’s NCAA Super Regional series with No. 1 Texas may have been the difference between the Aggies’ bus ride back to College Station and a flight to Oklahoma City.

The Longhorns’ three runs to A&M’s one in the sixth frame of Sunday’s Game 3 gave Texas just enough of a cushion for a 6-5 win over the Aggies and a trip to the Women’s College World Series. A&M couldn’t overcome a four-run deficit heading into the seventh at McCombs Field in Austin, despite senior C Julia Cottrill’s three-run home run.

Over the weekend’s three games, the Aggies were outscored in the sixth inning 12-2. A&M had its chance to raise its output in the series’ final matchup, but a pair of strikeouts left the bases loaded in the penultimate inning. In the home half, the Longhorns struck for three hits while the Aggies committed two errors to make it a 6-2 ballgame.

“I think you’ve just got to take advantage of the opportunities you’re given, and we didn’t,” senior 2B Rylen Wiggins said.

A&M refused to go down quietly with a junior SS Koko Wooley single and a walk to senior 1B Trinity Cannon putting two runners on with one out in the seventh. Cottrill, without a home run since April 17, cashed in with a no-doubt blast beyond left field that brought the Aggies within a run.

 

Hope for a Maroon and White comeback was kept alive by four-pitch walks to Wiggins and freshman DP Mya Perez by freshman RHP Teagan Kavan. After Perez’s game-tying three-run homer the night before, sophomore PH Amari Harper got her shot at heroics but struck out looking to close out the game and A&M’s season.

“We fought to the last out, and, at the end of the day, I think we beat ourselves in the last few innings,” Cannon said.

Cannon and Wiggins represent what remains of A&M’s 2020 recruiting class in Aggieland. Over four seasons, two each with former coach Jo Evans and coach Trisha Ford, the pair saw the team go a combined 142-87 with a 31-44 mark in SEC play. They played in each game this season with 441 career appearances between the two.

“These two in particular, I think I’ve made it really clear are the reason why we are where we’re at,” Ford said. “They showed me what it was like to be an Aggie, I was kind of their freshman, to be honest with you … They created an environment for this Aggie softball team to thrive.”

In Ford’s first two years at the helm of the program, A&M’s 79 wins are the most over two seasons since the 2017 and 2018 squads made the Super Regional round. The Aggies’ third-place finish in the conference is their best placing since the 2017 team tied for third.

“I think we proved a lot of people wrong this year, made a lot of people mad that wanted to see us fail,” Wiggins said. “I’m glad to be a part of that.”

For the second game of the series, Cannon got the action started in the first inning. Wooley reached base on the first of two Texas errors in the opening frame before Cannon brought her home easily with an RBI double to right-center field. A&M was held to the single run after stranding a pair in scoring position.

The Aggies again found themselves with two runners on in the third, but a double play and a groundout sent them back to the field empty-handed. The missed opportunity loomed large in the bottom of the frame, as the Longhorns took the lead behind two unearned runs on a wild pitch and sophomore SS Viviana Martinez’s RBI double.

A fifth-inning solo home run by junior 3B Mia Scott put Texas up a pair before another Martinez double brought graduate P Shaylee Ackerman’s outing to a close. The five-year veteran was saddled with the loss after two unearned runs and one earned run on six hits in 4 2/3 frames.

A hit batter and a walk by junior RHP Emily Leavitt loaded the bases with Longhorns before she extinguished the threat with a groundout.

A&M answered in the sixth with a Cannon single while Cottrill reached and put runners on the corners with an error by the first baseman. Graduate CF Jazmine Hill narrowly beat out a would-be double play, cutting the Aggies’ deficit in half with her RBI fielder’s choice.

Wiggins added a bloop single ahead of Perez wearing a pitch from Kavan to load the bases with one out. Two punchouts, though, prevented further damage as Kavan looked like her Big 12 Freshman of the Year self.

The Longhorns’ three-spot in the bottom of the inning made the missed chance sting even more. A throwing error scored the first bit of insurance until Scott and Martinez knocked in their second runs of the night.

Cannon and Wiggins reached base a collective six times in potentially the final game of their A&M careers.

“I’m extremely thankful to be a part of this team and to be an Aggie,” Wiggins said. “I didn’t even want to be an Aggie growing up, so it was kind of a random thing that fell upon me. It’s been a really great blessing just to be here. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way. I love these girls, love our staff.”

As Cannon and Wiggins served as cornerstones for Ford’s two seasons at A&M, the program is expected to return an experienced nucleus around Wooley, junior RF Allie Enright, sophomore 3B Kennedy Powell and junior LHP Emiley Kennedy.

With the team reinserted into the national discussion after several rough seasons, Cannon and Wooley stuck with the program through its highs and lows.

“Texas A&M softball wasn’t on the map when I took over,” Ford said. “I think, this year, we surprised a lot of people. I think we are going to be consistently in the conversation when it comes to postseason, hosting, top-8 seeds, all those things, and it all started with these two … I have 100% confidence that these two, even though their playing days are over, they’re going to continue to help us and grow us and make sure that they give back to the program, because that’s what Aggies do.”

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a senior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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    Tracy SatterfieldMay 28, 2024 at 1:21 pm

    If Ford would have left well enough alone in the second game, Left her ace in the game the Aggies would be in the World Series!!!!!! Another manager over thinking the game!!!!

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