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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

A&M softball faces stiff test at No. 1 Florida

Pitcher+Katie+Marks
Photo by Mary Reyes
Pitcher Katie Marks

Welcome to the heart of SEC play, where there are no easy games.

The Texas A&M softball team will continue its tough road trip this weekend to face the No. 1 and reigning national champion Florida Gators in Gainesville, Fla. 

The No. 25 Aggies (34-14, 9-9 SEC) come off a rebound victory against LSU on Sunday after dropping the series with losses on Friday and Saturday. Head coach Jo Evans said she was particularly pleased with the fight her club showed on Sunday after two tough losses against a top-five team.

“I’m so proud of our kids and how they fight and how much better we’ve gotten offensively over the last few weeks,” Evans said. “I’m really thrilled for our ball club.”

She praised freshman shortstop Kristen Cuyos, who she said has shown growth during her first season in Aggieland.

“I’m really proud of that kid,” Evans said. “For her to get up there in that situation where we needed a big hit, she’s a kid that I always think each hit is going to be a big one. She just cranked it. She’s such a great kid and great teammate, I love coaching her.”

The No. 1 Gators (39-5, 11-4 SEC) are rated the best team in the country, with two of their three main hurlers posting ERAs below two. Lauren Haeger leads the club with an unblemished record of 21-0 with a 1.15 ERA. Aleshia Ocasio isn’t far behind, with a record of 15-3. 

Junior Cali Lanphear said the Aggie bats have a tough task in attacking one of the best pitching staffs in the country.

“If we could just have good at-bats and focus on one at-bat at a time, I think we’ll be fine,” Lanphear said. “Some of their pitching is a lot like LSU’s so it was good that we got a look at that last week to prepare us.”

Although Haeger is the leader of the Florida pitching staff, she also paces the Gators in homers and RBIs on the season with 14 and 55, respectively. Senior Rachel Fox said it will be difficult to contain a talented player like Haeger on the mound and at the plate.

“It’s important for our hitters to attack early,” Fox said. “We’re probably going to be looking first or second pitch strike and hopefully attacking from there. As far as pitching to [Haeger], you’ve got to keep it off the strike zone because if it’s there, she’s going to take it out of the park.”

First pitch is at 5 p.m. Friday.

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