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 face Tennessee in first game of postseason play

Photo by Abbey Santoro
Tennessee preview

The Texas A&M softball team wrapped up the regular season last weekend in Gainesville and is now in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to compete in the SEC Tournament. No. 10 seed A&M will face No. 7 seed Tennessee on Wednesday, May 12, at 4:15 p.m. at Rhoads Stadium.
This is not the first time the Aggies and Lady Volunteers are facing each other this season, as A&M hosted Tennessee for a one-game series as part of the Reveille Classic in March. Tennessee managed to take advantage of a passed ball on a wild pitch to score the winning run, defeating the Aggies 3-2.
A&M shortstop Rylen Wiggins said she’s excited for the opportunity to play Tennessee again and have a chance at redemption. When the teams met earlier in the season it was a lot of Aggies’ first look at an SEC opponent. Now more experienced, Wiggins said she and her teammates have a whole new level of confidence.
“That was the first SEC game we had ever played so that was kind of like seeing how we were going to do with SEC teams and I feel like we put up a pretty good fight,” Wiggins said. “I mean, it’s not like we got our butts whooped or anything, it was a very close game to the very end. I’m pretty excited for tomorrow’s showdown, I think it’s going to be a pretty good one.”
Although both teams have progressed since that game, A&M coach Jo Evans said some experience is better than none, especially when it comes to Tennessee pitcher Ashley Rogers, who the Aggies struggled against.
“We understand what we’re going to face, and we know that Rogers is really good,” Evans said. “She’s one of the best pitchers in this conference so that will be a challenge but at least we’ve seen her so we understand what she presents and we’ve seen their ball club. It’s nice to have a little bit of familiarity, even if it was only one game.”
Winning the pitching duel will be the key to success, Evans said. Rogers struck out 10 and limited the Aggies to three hits the last time they played. Evans said most of Tennessee’s losses this season occurred when Rogers wasn’t on the mound.
“Our key is to get to Rogers and get to Rogers early — make them go to their bullpen,” Evans said. “I think we’ve seen bright spots this past weekend in [A&M pitchers Grace] Uribe, [Kayla] Poynter and [Makinzy] Herzog, and it’s a matter of using those kids in the right combination to get that win.”
The maroon and white will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak after back-to-back weekends of being swept by their opponent while Tennessee went 1-2 in their most recent series. However, the SEC Tournament presents each team with a clean slate.
Wiggins said the team needs just one win to gain momentum and get on a roll. The newcomer said with such a young team, their emotions are a combination of confidence and frustration.
“We have a bunch of freshmen and underclassmen starting, and a bunch of these teams have a bunch of upperclassmen,” Wiggins said. “It’s frustrating knowing we are that close [to winning big games] but it’s also confidence knowing we are so much younger and are still putting up that fight.”
Evans said the team is close to a breakthrough and realizes the SEC Tournament presents great opportunities because of the caliber of competition.
“It’s really important for us to get over that hump and win one. We continue to have those opportunities to beat great teams, you know here we are again with the opportunity tomorrow to do that,” Evans said. “I feel like we’re one of the best 64 teams in the country. I think anyone that watches us play and compete and sees the pieces we have in place could agree to that.”
Evans said she hopes to see her team carry their ability to fight and inability to be intimidated into postseason play.
Additionally, Evans said she hopes to have graduate transfer Kelsey Broadus and sophomore Shaylee Ackerman available again, as both have been out due to injury. Broadus adds depth to the Aggies’ bullpen and Ackerman has accumulated 12 home runs so far this season. Evans said Broadus is a day-to-day assessment and Ackerman will likely be back in the lineup on Wednesday.
The Aggies and Volunteers will take the field on Wednesday, May 12 with the first pitch scheduled for 4:15 p.m at Rhoads Stadium. The winner will advance and face No. 2 seed Arkansas at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

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