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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Diamond of their own

Softball+Preview+Maroon+Life
Photo by Graphic by Robert O’Brien & Casey Stavenhagen
Softball Preview Maroon Life

Springtime is filled with clear skies, blooming flowers and 70-degree weather. Conversely, it marks the start of home runs, fierce competition and a packed Davis Diamond.
Texas A&M softball is back. With five freshmen, six sophomores, three juniors, three seniors and one graduate student making up the team, the variety of young and experienced talent is something Aggie fans have not seen in a while.
Last season, the Aggies battled their way into the NCAA Tournament, but eventually lost in Regionals to Wichita State. They went 32-23 and finished 10th in the SEC.
Despite an underwhelming record on paper, the maroon and white began to rebuild. The team spent an abundance of time in the offseason bonding and becoming closer than ever before. These tight connections will be necessary when the game is on the line and trust is needed, graduate pitcher Kayla Poytner said.
“We have a great time together,” Poytner said. “It’s so much fun being around each other, even when we’re not at softball. On the field, we’re really bonding and we’re communicating because we are used to doing it off the field. We have great team chemistry this year.”
Leading the squad is coach Jo Evans, who will be entering her 26th season as head coach. She has coached her way to the NCAA postseason 21 times and holds the most Division I wins among active head coaches in the SEC. With only 18 athletes on her roster, this is one of the smaller teams Evans has coached. However, she said the reduced roster size has led to more competition among them, and the team’s expectations remain the same.
“SEC is tough,” Evans said. “Our expectations are always that we will host regionals and make a run in the postseason. This is a year where we feel we can position ourselves to do that.”
The team overflows with young skill including five driven freshmen who have quickly found a community. Senior utility player Morgan Smith said this year’s youngest players have improved since the moment they stepped on campus.
“The freshman class that we have this year … they are all amazing and super talented,” Smith said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a freshman class that came in and got so involved.”
In addition, there is a heavy presence of sophomores who have yet to reach their full potentials. With players like infielder Trinity Cannon, catcher Mayce Allen and infielder Rylen Wiggins, the Aggies have talent at every position.
Poytner, who will be entering her fifth season as an Aggie, said these underclassmen will contribute tremendously to the team’s long-term success.
“We are young, but we have a lot of depth,” Poytner said. “90% of our kids can play more than one position, so if someone goes down, we know we have someone that’s ready to jump in.”
This team is not gifted solely because of new blood. Adding to the Aggies’ accumulation of talent is senior catcher and utility player Haley Lee. In 2021, Lee sent 25 home runs over the wall, breaking A&M’s single-season home run record. In the same vein, senior pitcher and outfielder Makinzy Herzog helped was instrumental to the Aggies’ scoring last season, leading the team with 46 runs and 15 doubles. It will be important for these seniors to guide their younger teammates to finish and maintain consistency.
“We’ve positioned ourselves last year to get some big wins against great opponents, and we need to be better at finishing [games],” Evans said. “We’ve had opportunities where we have the lead in the last inning, and we have let them get away. I want to see us be more consistent in our level of competing since we have all the pieces in play.”
Last season, COVID-19 restrictions limited the number of people allowed in Davis Diamond, so younger athletes have yet to witness the 12th Man in full effect.
“It is hard to put into words,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things that describes, ‘From the outside, you can’t understand it, but from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.’ It’s so electric. You can never be prepared for it until you’re there. Even when we travel, there’s nothing like a full Davis Diamond.”
A&M softball’s season kicked off on Feb. 11 at the Aggie Classic at Davis Diamond. SEC play begins March 11 at Auburn.

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