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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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Softball finds success on opening night in Starkville

Haley+Lee+hit+a+sacrifice+fly+in+the+sixth+inning+against+Kansas+to+score+a+run.
Photo by Photo by Kaylee Cogbill

Haley Lee hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against Kansas to score a run.

The Texas A&M softball team defeated Mississippi State 7-5 on Friday night at Nusz Park in Starkville.
The Aggies improved their record to 30-13, 7-9 in SEC while the Bulldogs fell to 24-20 and remain winless in conference play.
A&M coach Jo Evans praised the team for its ability to come away with a win on the opening night of the series.
“Tonight was huge. This actually is set up like a recipe for disaster for us,” Evans said. “People are looking at [Mississippi State] like they’re due to win a game at home and they’re looking at us as an opening … I’m so proud of our ball club to come out here on a Friday night and grit it out, play with a lot of confidence and step up when we need our team most. We just keep getting better and I’m really proud of our ball club.”
Neither team brought anyone around until A&M managed to get on the board in the third inning with a pair of solo home runs, first by junior Makinzy Herzog, then junior Morgan Smith. The Aggies then capitalized on the Bulldogs’ walking of three batters when senior Kelbi Fortenberry drove in a run to extend A&M’s lead to 3-0.
Mississippi State responded with a couple of runs in the fourth to shorten the deficit to one run but the maroon and white continued their scoring streak and extended their lead to 4-2 with an RBI double by freshman Bre Warren. Junior Haley Lee then recorded a three-run home run in the fifth, her 20th home run of the season.
Evans commended Lee’s productivity at the plate and said her consistency is what makes her so potent.
“What I love about her is she learns something from every at-bat and she also learns from other people’s at-bats as well,” Evans said. “She had such a good night tonight. They pitched to her the one time and strike her out, but she gets up there and doesn’t get discouraged and goes yard. Just the way she keeps her composure, learning from at-bat to at-bat, she’s separating herself as one of the best as one of the best home run hitters in A&M history.”
The Bulldogs rallied in the bottom of the seventh by recording back-to-back solo home runs. Mississippi State managed to bring the game within two runs but ultimately came up short.
Junior Makinzy Herzog pitched all seven innings for the Aggies. Although Herzog only recorded one strikeout on the night and allowed seven hits, the veteran remained calm and collected while on the mound. Evans said she’s proud of the way Herzog managed herself in the circles and was pleased with her performance.
“I really thought that Herzog did a nice job tonight,” Evans said. “That’s a tough line-up, that’s a team that’s going to hit home runs, especially here. I was just really proud of her to hold her ground.”
Meanwhile, A&M forced Mississippi State to dig deep into its bullpen, showcasing three of their pitchers. Evans said heading into the series the key to beating the Bulldogs was going to be forcing them to show their bullpen so she’s proud of the team for making them do so.
“For us to get those looks and understand what we’re going to be facing the next two days and for our kids to be chasing pitchers — you can’t ask for more,” Evans said. “You want them to be able to see what those pitchers are going to throw and what opportunities you’re going to have, who’s going to match up best with what pitching. I’m proud of our kids for doing damage offensively and then for Herzog to stay in there and finish that game to keep our bullpen where they were I think is really important.”
Up next, the Aggies will take on Mississippi State for Game 2 on Saturday in Starkville. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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