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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies suffer back-to-back heartbreakers to Tennessee

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Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson

Freshman infielder Cayden Baker (22) at home plate in Davis Diamond on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022.

The Texas A&M softball team experienced deja vu on Sunday, April 17, as it took on No. 11 Tennessee at Lee Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
On the heels of a 7-5 walk-off loss the night before, the Aggies couldn’t sustain a four-run lead as they suffered another heartbreaking loss to the Lady Volunteers. With A&M leading 8-7 in the seventh inning, graduate catcher Kelcy Leach clobbered a grand slam to hand the maroon and white an 11-7 loss.
“It’s just inexcusable to have a four-run lead going into the sixth and [lose],” coach Jo Evans said. “It was set up for us to win a ballgame.”
Despite an offensive outburst by the Aggies that included a quartet of home runs and 11 total hits, the team’s pitching staff couldn’t ward off the Lady Vols’ potent offensive attack. With the loss, A&M now stands at 3-11 in conference play and 24-16 overall while still in search of their first SEC series win through five weekends of play. Still to come on the Aggies’ conference slate are No. 2 Alabama, Missouri and No. 11 Arkansas.
The A&M offense broke the ice in the third inning, as singles by freshman center fielder and Knoxville native Cayden Baker and senior first baseman Haley Lee put runners on second and third with the help of a wild pitch. Sophomore third baseman Trinity Cannon then smacked a pitch into left field, scoring both runners for a 2-0 edge.
The lead would be short-lived, though, as Tennessee responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame behind a walk and two singles. The Lady Vols would tack on a third run in the inning on an A&M passed ball.
The maroon and white quickly tied things up in the fourth, as a single by senior right fielder Morgan Smith and a walk drawn by sophomore catcher Mayce Allen set the stage for an RBI single by Lee, her 35th run batted in of the season. Freshman shortstop Koko Wooley followed up Smith’s run with a single of her own, loading the bases for the Aggies with just one out. However, the Tennessee defense recorded two consecutive fielder’s choices to end the threat.
Sophomore pitcher Grace Uribe took over in the circle for freshman starting pitcher Emiley Kennedy to start the fourth inning, working around a walk to end the frame without any damage. Kennedy would soon return in the bottom of the fifth inning to relieve Uribe after an inning-opening double where she gave up a single to freshman designated player Lair Beautae to score the runner for a 4-3 Tennessee lead. Kennedy finished her 3 2/3 inning outing by allowing two earned runs on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts, the only punchouts thrown by A&M pitchers.
“I was really pleased with Grace [Uribe],” Evans said. “Emiley [Kennedy] went out there and pitched her heart out, and she kept us in the game. We needed what we got from Grace. She came into the game in relief, threw her pitches and really settled in.”
The Aggies’ bats exploded for five runs in the sixth inning with a barrage of home runs off a trio of Tennessee pitchers, giving A&M an 8-4 lead. Lee started the onslaught with her 10th home run of the season and third hit of the game, a blast off the scoreboard in left field to tie the game at four apiece. After a Tennessee pitching change, Cannon unloaded on a 3-1 offering for a solo homer, her seventh of the year. The Aggies then staged a two-out rally that began with freshman designated player Katie Dack’s round-tripper and ended with a two-run shot by Smith, also marking her third hit of the day.
“I thought our offense did such a great job today,” Evans said. “We went out and made an adjustment at the plate and got to every pitcher we saw. It was great seeing us get four home runs in one inning.”
The Lady Vols responded with a productive inning of their own that saw them take advantage of three hit batters and two walks. Senior Makinzy Herzog shifted from left field to act as a relief pitcher, where she hit the first two batters and walked the third to load the bases. Leach then blooped a single into centerfield, the Lady Vols’ only hit of the inning, to tack on a run. With the bases juiced, graduate shortstop Ivy Jones was hit by a pitch to force in a run before an RBI groundout by Beautae accounted for Tennessee’s third run of the inning, bringing them within one at 8-7.
After holding A&M scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Lady Vols immediately went to work, as sophomore third baseman Zaida Puni, who hit the previous game’s walk-off, doubled off of the Aggies’ graduate pitcher Kayla Poynter. Like Herzog, Poynter struggled with her pitch control, hitting the next batter before issuing a walk to load the bases. With no outs, Leach walloped a 1-1 pitch from Poynter over the center-field wall, capping off a five-RBI performance and sending the 1,708 Tennessee fans in attendance home happy.
The Aggies will look to salvage the series on Monday, April 18, with the first pitch of the series finale set for 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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