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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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Two wins away from WCWS, Aggies to face Tennessee in Super Regionals

Milligan+celebrates+with+Kristen+Cuyos+after+she+gives+captures+the+second+out+of+the+ninth+inning.
Photo by By Lawrence Smelser

Milligan celebrates with Kristen Cuyos after she gives captures the second out of the ninth inning.

Sophomore outfielder Keeli Milligan knows what is at stake this weekend in Knoxville.
“Two more wins and we’re in the World Series,” the outfielder simply put it Tuesday afternoon.
And she’s right.
Two wins over Tennessee in this weekend’s Super Regional, and Texas A&M will be Oklahoma City-bound for the first time in a decade.
Yet, the No. 9 Aggies (45-10) are reluctant to bypass the No. 8 Volunteers (47-10) and have their mentality turn straight to the big goal.
“That’s getting a little ahead,” sophomore third baseman Riley Sartain said of the Women’s College World Series chatter. “We do talk about it of course, that is an exciting thing, but we try to take game-by-game and just attack the next game that we can. Coach [Evans] always says the most important game you’ll ever play is the one in front of you.”
A&M head coach Jo Evans was brief in acknowledging what’s on the line in the coming weeks with her team on Tuesday, making sure their focus was solely on Tennessee.
“When I talked to our team today, I just said, ‘Okay, I’m going to mention the College World Series right now, and then I’m not going to mention it again because it’s not going to be about that. It’s going to be about Tennessee and playing the game,’” Evans said. “It’s really important that our coaching staff coveys that message to our team. There’s no time to get ahead of ourselves.”
Still, the anticipation of what may come is something A&M cannot hide from completely, as Milligan added that the countdown to Bricktown has already begun – only adding fuel to the fire.
“Every time we get a win, we’re like, ‘We’re four wins away. Hey, we’re three wins away,’” Milligan said. “And now we’re two. We’re less than a series away from being in it, so we’re ready to go.”
Despite being so close, A&M still has to tame Tennessee, a team that the Aggies faced just three weeks ago and lost a nail-biting series to in their regular-season finale.
The familiarity and recentness in opponent is something the team feels will help them this time around, however.
“It’ll help for sure,” Milligan said of playing Tennessee recently, after noting her blue-dyed hair would be re-colored this weekend, needing to be vibrant. “I watched film today and I see exactly what I was doing wrong and I know what I need to do to make sure those pitches that I was barely missing last time, I know what I need to do to go ahead and barrel them up.”
The piece of the puzzle to solve, however, is Vols ace pitcher Matty Moss (25-2, 1.67 ERA), who collected two wins to close and claim the series against A&M.
Upon further review though, the Aggies believe they may have figured out Moss, who maneuvered through the A&M lineup earlier this year.
“Matty Moss will leave balls over the plate and we just really have to attack her mistakes and make sure that we just dominate her, because we know we can,” sophomore pitcher Samantha Show said. “We took her out of that third game, so it’s possible.
“From a hitting aspect, we know what we’re going to see. We know that Moss throws hard and that [Caylan] Arnold moves up and down, so this week of preparing for that should really prepare us to just go out and get all hits.”
While Show and the Aggies believe they may have solved Moss on the mound, Show herself must re-think her attack in the circle, having struggled against the Vols in her two starts against them – both of which were losses.
That said, Show added that a change in approach was taken in preparation for the series, and having Trinity Harrington back in the rotation will only strengthen the A&M bullpen.
“Coach Dill in our bullpen gave us the game plan and it’s completely different,” Show said. “We all have some more games under our belt and know that we have Trin back, we’re even stronger than we were in Regionals, so we’re going come out hard.”
Although the Aggies have had a second chance to tune up their game plan against the Vols, Tennessee in turn has had the same opportunity. The difference this time around though, may be that instead of trending down, A&M is rising up.
“Obviously we have information on them, but that also means they have information on us,” Sartain said. “Hopefully we can bring something new to the table and kind of catch them off guard a little bit.
“We haven’t all peaked at the same time and I think that’s just around the corner. I think this Regional that we just won is going to propel us peaking all at the same time.”
Tennessee, however, cruised through Regionals, going 3-0 and outscored its opponents 15-3.
Evans feels that the matchup is about as even as it gets and is excited to see what is to come, but gave her club a leg up because of pitching.
“We are really equal. I think both teams have a superstar hitter – they have got Meghan Gregg and we’ve got Tori Vidales. Both teams have great supporting casts, both teams play good defense, both teams have pitchers who can win on any given day. I think our pitching staff is deeper, so I give ourselves the nod in that situation. It’s a really good matchup, a close matchup. It’ll be fun to see how it all plays out.”
The Aggies and Volunteers will begin the best-of-three series Friday night at 5:00 p.m. at Parker Lee Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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