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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 conquer Spartans and tame Lions in Saturday double-header

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman IF Koko Wooley (3) runs towards first base as Arkansas INF Aurdire LaValley (99) catches the flyball hit by Wooley at Davis Diamond on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, Texas A&M competed in its second double header of the weekend. This time around, the Aggies would be facing stiffer competition against Big 10’s Michigan State and Southland’s Texas A&M-Commerce, who went 43-15 in 2022.
Game 3 – Michigan State
On a chilly, Saturday afternoon, Aggie softball looked to heat up offensively to keep warm against their first Power Five opponent of the season in the Michigan State Spartans.
After beating Tarleton State twice this weekend with two run-rules and handling Northern Kentucky 6-1, A&M cruised to a 4-0 victory over the Spartans with another impressive performance from sophomore pitcher Emily Leavitt to remain undefeated at the A&M Invitational.
The Aggies seemed like they may run away with this contest early, as the first three A&M batters reached base on just three pitches. After sophomore infielder Koko Wooley reached first base on an infield error, both junior catcher Julia Cottrill and junior infielder Trinity Cannon singled to put the Aggies up 1-0. After a fielder’s choice and a walk, a single from freshman outfielder Keely Williams inflated A&M’s lead to 3 in the bottom of the first.
“I was just looking for the best pitch that they would throw me,” Williams said. ”They were throwing a lot of balls around the plate trying to make us chase. I was just trying to stay in my lane.”
After a sacrifice fly from Cottrill to score Wooley in the second inning, the Aggie’s offense lost steam. From the second inning onward, A&M could not muster another hit. The only other baserunner for the Aggies came in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs from an error in the Spartan’s outfield.
“Obviously offensively, we came out of the gates pretty aggressive,” A&M coach Trisha Ford said. “We were really focused. I would like to see us, as we continue and get better, finish that game and continue that intensity.”
That offensive slump was irrelevant for the Aggies in the end as Leavitt continued to deliver outs from start to finish. The right-hander dominated on the mound for A&M as she pitched a complete game shutout. The California native had eight strikeouts and faced minimum batters allowed in four of the seven innings pitched.
“I thought Leavitt did a great job of pounding the zone, showing her off-speed which allowed her to throw seven complete innings,” Ford said.
Leavitt, who threw 4 1/3 innings of shutout ball against Tarleton on Thursday, has not missed a beat so far this season. She still has not allowed a run yet in both starts and currently holds two of the Aggie’s wins in the early season.
“[Leavitt] is dynamic honestly. She is able to control both sides of the plate and throw off-speed,” Ford said. “Hitting is about pitch selection and timing, so if you can disrupt timing, that is a very simple equation.”
Game 4 – Texas A&M-Commerce
A&M softball’s fifth win in three days came against the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions on Saturday, Feb. 11. The Aggies second Saturday game came only 30 minutes after their first win of the day against Michigan State, as a previous delay had caused that game to go late into the night. With that, the cold set in as gametime reached Davis Diamond.
Senior pitcher Shaylee Ackerman started the game on the mound for the Aggies. She led an Aggie defense that has only allowed 3 runs so far this season. Despite the short break between games, the Aggies defense did not appear tired and it seemed to be a defensive battle through the first inning and a half.
The momentum changed in the bottom of the second. The Aggies took advantage of a walk with zero outs and followed this with the first hit of the game. Williams hit a line drive into left-center field that got past the center fielder. This allowed Williams to get to second while senior outfielder Morgan Smith moved to third base. A sacrifice fly, by freshman outfielder Riley Valentine, into right field got the Aggies on the board first with a 1-0 lead. Freshman infielder Amari Harper got an RBI of her own as she hit a double to increase the lead to 2 in favor of the Aggies.
After the next two batters were walked, the Lions responded by making the first of two pitching changes of the inning. However, Wooley proceeded to drive the ball deep into right field and her alert baserunning resulted in an inside-the-park homerun. This was immediately followed by a solo shot to deep center field by Cottrill. The Lions attempted another pitching change but the Aggies offense refused to slow down. A Valentine 3-run homerun was the last of this outburst and the second inning wrapped with a 10-0 Aggie lead.
The Aggies offense was put on halt up until two outs in the fourth inning. Junior catcher and outfielder Paige Lott hit a solo homerun off the jumbotron to bring the lead to 11. Throughout this time, A&M’s defense remained strong. Ackerman took a perfect game up until the fifth inning when she walked one and then allowed her first and only hit to Lions sophomore catcher Elizebeth Guerrero. She stayed dialed in and finished the last inning with two strikeouts. Her final stats displayed an impressive nine strikeouts on 73 pitches with just one walk and one hit. Her complete game shutout was the second by an A&M pitcher on the day, as Leavitt pitched a shutout against Michigan State.
“It’s really exciting,” Ackerman said about the pitching staff’s performance. “All of us have our own strengths so it’s gonna be fun to kind of match us up and see what we can do throughout the season.”
A&M’s coaching staff seemed proud of how their team performed today as well.
“Overall, [Ackerman] is getting better. We’re working on things and we are really excited about what she’s doing in the circle,” Ford said. “Obviously, for Riley Valentine to get her first collegiate home run here officially and for Paige Lott to get hers as well. That’s exciting. That’s good stuff.”
Following this exciting day of softball, the Aggies now have just one game remaining in the 2023 Texas A&M Invitational, taking place tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 12, against Texas A&M-Commerce at 2:00 p.m.

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