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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Explosive fifth sends A&M to Super Regionals with 10-4 win over Baylor

Senior+center+fielder+Erica+Russell+finished+the+night+2-for-2+with+3+RBI.
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Senior center fielder Erica Russell finished the night 2-for-2 with 3 RBI.

After a six-hour delay, No. 15 Texas A&M came to life following a sluggish start en route to a 10-4 victory over Baylor to win the College Station Regional Sunday evening and punch its ticket to a Super Regional for the second-straight season.
“Obviously I’m really proud of the way our team played tonight,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We got down a couple of runs, and we didn’t panic. We settled in and started to just chip away and our kids played with good enthusiasm … I loved how we kept our composure and kept attacking.”
Coming into Sunday’s Regional Final, A&M was third in the nation in runs per game this postseason, averaging 9.5 per contest, and the Aggies displayed their offensive power yet again.
In the top of the fifth, A&M obliterated the Bears, tacking on seven runs on just four hits, including six with two outs.
“When you’re playing a team like Baylor who’s got a potent offense and great pitching and you can get out there and score that many runs in an inning, it just breaks a team’s back,” Evans said. “I think I turned into a cheerleader for most of it.”
Senior Erica Russell blew the game open with a 3-RBI double to the back right field corner after an eight-pitch at-bat.
“We had a mentality that we wanted to score runs and keep that going and I’m just proud I could produce for my team,” Russell said.
Throughout the game, the Aggies capitalized in two-out situations going 7-for-14 and driving in seven runs.
“Scoring on two outs is even better,” Evans said. “It’s exciting, it shows your team’s resilient, that they have fight.”
A&M starter Lexi Smith struggled early, having constant traffic on the bases and only went 3.0 innings, allowing three runs on six hits.
“She just wasn’t sharp,” Evans said of Smith. “She couldn’t find her curveball for a strike and her backdoor wasn’t really working well.”
Smith got support from A&M’s relief pitching of Peyton McBride and Trinity Harrington, who stymied the Bears’ early offensive success. The two tossed 5.0 innings in relief, allowing just one run on five hits.
“Peyton was just a really good change of pace to go out there and got us a good inning and then a couple of outs,” Evans said. “She got a couple of outs so when Trinity came in last, she didn’t have the weight of the world on her shoulder.
“I pulled our pitching staff aside after the game and congratulated them on being a staff, and you can see the difference that makes. I thought we had the stronger pitching staff and that’s why we were able to win.”
Baylor took an early 2-0 lead after plating a run in each of the first two innings.
“We came out and did some really good things early,” Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said. “I’m really proud of the way the girls focused. They executed and got the lead.”
A&M tied the game up in the top half of the third, however, driving in two runs with two outs on back-to-back RBI singles from Tori Vidales and Kelbi Fortenberry.
The Aggies will advance to play No. 2 Florida next weekend in the Gainesville Super Regional. The Gators swept A&M with ease at home in March.
“That’s what we’re always playing for when we start at the beginning of the season,” Russell said. “Our plan is to host regionals, make super regionals and then so on. We’re beyond blessed to go on to super regionals. Our hard work is paying off and I’m really excited.”

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