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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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June 16, 2024

No. 7 A&M softball sweeps Incarnate Word in mid-week double header

Junior+Keeli+Milligan+had+three+RBIs+and+was+at-bat+three+times.
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Junior Keeli Milligan had three RBIs and was at-bat three times.

In consecutive weeks, No. 7 Texas A&M softball swept its opponents for the mid-week match up. Wednesday, A&M swept University of Incarnate Word in a doubleheader, 7-0 and 8-3.
In the top of the sixth inning of game two, with a 6-0 lead, sophomore Peyton McBride gave up a three-run home run to UIW’s pinch hitter Erica Castro, which cut A&M’s lead in half.
The Aggies added two security runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning after junior outfielder Keeli Milligan stole second, putting herself in scoring position, a bunt by Payton McBride brought Milligan in. Later in the inning, freshman Kylie George hit her first RBI after reaching base on a fielder’s choice extending the lead, 8-2.
A&M head coach Jo Evans said Milligan’s grit and confidence on the base pads regardless of where in the game the Aggies are is a testament to how much Milligan is willing to compete.
“We needed some runs in the last inning (of the second game),” Evans said. “I didn’t feel comfortable with a three-run lead, but Keeli went up there and got herself on, stole a base, and then gave herself a chance to score.”
A&M’s offense exploded in the first inning of game two as the Aggies scored five runs on five hits in the bottom of opening frame.
The opening rally began with leadoff hitter and junior outfielder Keeli Milligan singling to short stop then stealing second base to get into scoring position for junior Kaitlyn Alderink. Alderink then drew a walk after a six pitch at-bat.
Senior first baseman Tori Vidales then drove Milligan in for the first run. Senior Ashley Walters and junior Riley Sartain had back-to-back RBI singles extending the A&M lead 3-0 with no outs. Senior shortstop Kristen Cuyos rounded out the first inning, scoring with a 2 RBI single down the left field line giving A&M a 5-0 lead after one complete inning of play.
A&M then added one more run in the second inning after Milligan tripled and was brought in by Alderink.
As the Aggies prepare to open up SEC play this weekend as they host Ole Miss, Evans said the 21-3 non-conference record has given A&M the confidence needed to compete in a stacked conference like the SEC, which has 10 teams ranked in the top 25 and five ranked in the top 10.
“You always want to feel good about yourself when you open up conference play,” Evans said. “We have an older and experienced team, so they know what it is like to play in the SEC. They understand how challenging it is. What I want to make sure of is that we keep playing the game and that we don’t all of a sudden think the game is going to be harder or that we need to do something differently.”
Freshman Maddie McGrandle earned her fifth win of the season with a four and one-third innings pitched outing against the Cardinals. McGrandle struck out five batters and gave up three runs.
Evans said she was happy to see the improvement by the younger pitching staff and reiterated the importance the non-conference portion of the schedule for the development of young players.
“It is nice to come here and finish non-conference out with a couple more wins and get a lot of people in to give them a chance to get out there and show us what they can do. It is important to us that the younger people feel prepared because you never know what is going to happen down the stretch,” Evans said. “The biggest thing for me is that they have a lot to learn. They have to be ready when their opportunity comes because that is their chance to shine. They understand that they can get better.”
In the first game, A&M scored three runs in both the second and fourth innings, jumping to a 6-0 lead. The Aggies added another run in the fifth inning making it 7-0, which in turn would be the final score.
Senior pitcher Trinity Harrington earned the complete game shutout in the circle for the Aggies, giving up four hits, walking one batter and striking out eight.
Evans said Harrington, who has battled with injuries in the past, is feeling the strongest she has ever felt, and it is showing with her performances on the mound.
“She looked really good. She is running on all cylinders,” Evans said. “I know I keep saying that, but she just is. Her mechanics look good and so does her rhythm and timing. Her confidence is at a high level.”
Milligan led A&M offensively throughout the day, going 6-for-7 at the plate, scoring three runs and stealing four bases on the day. Evans said having Milligan start to get hot right before conference play was crucial.
“It was nice to be able to get her in motion and get a bunch of stolen bases,” Evans said. “She was just getting on base and making us go.”
The Aggies open up SEC play Friday against No. 17 Ole Miss. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Aggie Softball Complex.

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