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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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Going, going, gone

A&M softball opens season with wins over Valparaiso and Lehigh on Friday
Sophomore+OF+Keely+Williams+%2818%29+hits+the+ball+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Valpo+on+Feb.+10%2C+2024+at+Davis+Diamond.
Photo by Jaime Rowe
Sophomore OF Keely Williams (18) hits the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.

Game 1

A cloudy Friday afternoon was filled with rejoice and rejuvenation from Aggie fans as No. 24 Texas A&M softball began its 2024 season with a matchup against Valparaiso University on Friday, Feb. 9 at Davis Diamond.

A&M left little to be desired en route to a dominant 11-0 win over the Beacons to make it 1-0 for the season.

The first inning started with senior P Shaylee Ackerman quickly striking out senior CF Kayla Skapyak and senior 2B Alexis Johnson before sophomore INF Kim Rodas drew a walk.

When RF Regi Hecker took the plate, she surprised the Aggies with a quick hit to left field that hit Aggie sophomore 3B Kennedy Powell in the face on its way to advancing Rodas to third base and sending Hecker to second.

Luckily for A&M, Powell was fine and Ackerman was able to strike out sophomore 1B Kaia Garnica to prevent Valpo from scoring in the first inning.

The second inning was where things were blown open for the Maroon and White. Valpo had sophomore SS Kam Utendorf at bat first, but Wooley was able to make the play to get her out. Freshman DH Natalie Bush and sophomore C Lyna Vasquez were also put out by Wooley.

Valpo freshman P Sydney McDermott let senior DH Trinity Cannon walk. Next up came graduate CF Jazmine Hill and a quick hit from her sent Cannon to second base.

Then came sophomore LF Keely Williams and her explosive bat. The crowd unleashed a roar of cheers as Williams hit a home run to right field to send her, Cannon and Hill home to make it 3-0, A&M.

A double from junior RF Allie Enright advanced her to second, and senior 2B Rylen Wiggins singled to send Enright home to make it 4-0.

A&M’s rotation came back to Wooley, who bunted to send Wiggins to third as she ended up on second. A single from Powell sent Wiggins and Wooley home to put the Aggies up 6-0.

The third inning started with Ackerman striking out Fenters before a leaping catch from Powell retired Skapyak. Valpo was quickly finished for the third inning, as Ackerman made another play to force Johnson out.

A&M was up and the fire from the second inning remained burning. Williams was hit by a pitch to advance to first base and an Enright home run brought her and Williams home to bolster the lead to 8-0.

Wiggins followed up Enright’s home run with a solo homer of her own. Two walks from freshman PH Mya Perez and Wooley put the Aggies on first and second. The rest was taken care of by sophomore PH Aiyana Coleman with a double to send Perez home and turn the Aggies’ lead into a double-digit one at 10-0.

One more run for the Aggies in the third came from senior C Julia Cottrill, who hit a sacrifice fly to send Wooley home for the 11-0 lead.

The fifth and final inning started with a quick strikeout of Bush, with Vasquez out to leave only one more chance for Valpo to get on the board. The Beacons looked like they could do something as junior LF Lauren Sena walked and made it to second off of a wild pitch from graduate P Brooke Vestal.

Third base was stolen by Sena, and everything was in Kuhlmann’s hands. However, Hill was able to catch a fly ball to end the game and give the Aggies a win for their first game of the season.

Game 2

On Wednesday, coach Trisha Ford said that “the honeymoon is over” and that she is “looking for more grit, fight and chemistry from her team.”

She got exactly that in the final game of the first day of the Aggie Classic against Lehigh as No. 25 Texas A&M softball rallied back to beat the Mountain Hawks 12-4 in five innings.

Though A&M took an early lead thanks to junior pitcher Emiley Kennedy striking out Lehigh and scores by Powell and Cottrill, the Mountain Hawks came out soaring high in the second inning.

Lehigh found its rhythm and brought home four Mountain Hawks from a barrage of singles to double A&M’s score. Led by freshmen infielders Holly Lovett and Peyton Sward and freshman LF Gracie Smith, Lehigh’s second inning hot streak continued to the bottom of the inning.

Senior pitcher Katelyn Young did her job perfectly as she held the Maroon and White to zero bases. Uneasiness built in the home crowd as Lehigh jumped out to an unexpected 4-2 lead while A&M looked like it was figured out.

Then, the home runs came in.

After Kennedy rebounded and got things going to hold Lehigh scoreless, Cottrill continued the momentum with a home run to left field, her first of the year.

As she came back to the dugout greeted by cheers from her teammates and the home crowd,  Enright joined in on the fun as she mirrored Cottrill’s home run, hammering the ball over right field and brought home  Hill and Cannon to bring the Aggies back on top, 6-4.

Ford said she would be experimenting with the pitching rotation and it came to fruition as she subbed out Kennedy for sophomore P Emily Leavitt. Right away, she picked up where Kennedy left off as she extinguished the once-hot trio hitters of Lovett, Sward and Smith.

As the home crowd kept collecting flying foul balls, the Maroon and White continued to push their foot on the gas pedal, running ahead of Lehigh for good in the bottom of the fourth.

Though Young kept A&M at bay initially, the Aggies broke it wide open, starting with singles from freshman 1B Amari Harper and Powell. With Harper advancing to third after a throwing error and Powell stealing second, the bases were loaded for Cannon to bring them all home.

However, a wild pitch from Lehigh turned into Harper dashing home and the end of Young’s night as she was subbed out for freshman P Maddy Clark. Lehigh’s hopes of catching A&M off-guard with the change were quickly erased as Clark walked Hill and after Powell scored, the bases were once again loaded as Williams stepped up to the plate.

She gave the Mountain Hawks a taste of their own medicine from their earlier single runs as she hit one of her own to bring home freshman PR Scout Lovell and after a throwing error, Cottrill joined her to put the Aggies in double-digits.

Enright continued a terrific hitting performance as she hit a single to right field and after Williams stole second and advanced to third, Hill tacked on another score for the Maroon and White.

Perez saw her first action in the game and joined in on the beatdown as she singled to bring home Williams to put the Aggies firmly on top, 12-4.

Though the Mountain Hawks came out at the top of the fifth with some life, it was quickly gone as Leavitt put away Lehigh for good to secure another run-rule win.

With both softball players and spectators alike swaying to the Aggie War Hymn, the two teams will face off again on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Justin Chen
Justin Chen, Sports Writer
Justin Chen is a journalism senior minoring in sport management and communication. Justin has covered football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball and swim & dive. Justin also writes feature NBA pieces and covered the Miami Heat for Sir Charles In Charge. When not writing, he likes to frequent the gym, support Arsenal and watch anime.
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