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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 Battalion May 4, 2024

A&M bounced from NCAA Tournament with 11-5 loss to Texas

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Freshman C Riely Valentine (27) gets ready to catch softball prior to pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Mizzou at Davis Diamond on Sunday, April 30, 2023.

College rivalry games never fail to deliver a healthy dose of intensity, passion and drama, and the Texas A&M softball team’s NCAA Regional matchup with Texas on Sunday, May 21, was no exception.
As the Aggies secured a rematch with the Longhorns after defeating Texas State 4-2 on May 20, players were questioned on how the rivalry with Texas would impact the next day’s contest.
“It kind of adds a fire to us,” sophomore RHP Emiley Kennedy said after beating the Bobcats. “It doesn’t matter who it is, but now that it’s Texas, it just adds a little something.”
Any fire that the Aggies entered with was quickly extinguished as the Longhorns put up a four-spot in the opening frame and never looked back in an 11-5 defeat of A&M at McCombs Field in Austin. With the loss, A&M’s season comes to a close while Texas advances to the Super Regionals.
The fire was sparked, though, in the top of the fifth inning as Texas led 7-2. With one out, junior DP Courtney Day belted a bases-clearing double to left-center field to lift the Longhorns in line for a potential 10-2 run-rule victory.
That proved to be one of the less memorable aspects of the inning, as junior C Julia Cottrill was seemingly ejected for exchanging words with home plate umpire Keith Kearney. Throughout the game, the official was the subject of much displeasure from, in the words of Texas coach Mike White, “boisterous” A&M fans, including athletic director Ross Bjork.
“She was told to go to the dugout,” coach Trisha Ford said.
The supposed tossing of Cottrill brought an irate assistant coach Jeff Harger out of the dugout, who loudly voiced his displeasure to each umpire. His argument was met with a swift ejection.
“Us as coaches, we’re always going to fight for our team, fight for our players,” Ford said. “He’s got a lot of passion and he’s got their backs, and I am absolutely A-OK with what he did because he’s going to have all of our players’ backs.”
The action in the top of the inning carried over to the home half as the Aggies caught some momentary fire. Down to A&M’s final out with runners on the corners, Cottrill’s substitution, freshman Riley Valentine, blasted the first pitch she saw from sophomore RHP Mac Morgan to the street beyond left field. The no-doubt 3-run homer avoided a run-rule loss and kept the Aggies alive at 10-5.
“Watching the game, she was attacking hitters early, so at that point we had nothing to lose,” Valentine said. “I was taking a hack and whatever happens, happens.”
The freshman’s long ball was one of few bright spots for A&M, who couldn’t overcome Texas’ 4-run first inning as it cycled through three pitchers during a rainy start. Senior RHP Shaylee Ackerman got the starting nod opposite Morgan, a former pupil of Ford’s at Arizona State.
“I just told [the players] she’s gonna put the ball over the plate, she’s gonna work in and out, her ball’s got downspin on it,” Ford said. “She’s pretty simple in that way.”
Ackerman pitched six innings with no earned runs in her start versus Texas State on Friday, but fared much differently on Sunday by facing just four batters and failing to record an out. Freshman 1B Leighann Goode drew a leadoff walk and was plated on a sophomore 3B Mia Scott single that got past sophomore CF Allie Enright and rolled all the way to the wall. With Scott at third, a walk gave way to a 2-RBI double by Day.
Senior LHP Madison Preston entered the circle with the Aggies already trailing 3-0. Preston worked two quick groundouts, the latter of which plated the Longhorn’s fourth run. A double and two walks chased Preston from the game and brought in Kennedy, who prevented further damage with a lineout.
“[Ackerman] had a good matchup against them, obviously we just weren’t executing pitches,” Ford said. “Our approach before the game was Ackerman to Kennedy, and if we had to go with a short leash, it was going to go to Preston. It just all happened to happen in the first inning.”
Junior 1B Trinity Cannon put a dent in the lead in the bottom of the frame with an RBI groundout to plate sophomore SS Koko Wooley, but the Longhorns got right back to work in the second.
Junior CF Bella Dayton walked before Day’s grounder was misplayed by junior 3B Rylen Wiggins. A hit batter loaded the bases as redshirt freshman RF Ashton Maloney drew a full count walk to up the Texas lead to 5-1, and freshman C Reese Atwood’s sacrifice fly increased it to 6-1.
Enright redeemed herself in the bottom of the second with an RBI double to left-center that brought Wiggins home all the way from first. The baby step towards a tie ballgame made it 6-2.
“I didn’t think that our confidence was down, and I think it showed with us coming back and answering right away,” Ford said. “We kept fighting, and that’s the biggest thing. At the end of the day, this game is hard. You have two very good teams on the field, and you’ve just got to keep fighting and competing.”
Texas put up another four-spot in the fifth inning behind a dropped popup by freshman 2B Amari Harper that allowed junior PR Alyssa Washington to score. Two batters later, Day doubled as Kennedy was hit with three unearned runs on a day in which the A&M defense didn’t bring its A-game.
The Longhorns put a cap on the scoring in the seventh with freshman 2B Viviana Martinez’s RBI single.
The loss capped off the maroon and white’s season with a 35-21 record, a marked improvement over the 2022 campaign’s 31-28 mark that also saw them fall in the Regionals.

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