Texas A&M softball fell to the No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks 3-0 in extra innings on Sunday in game two.
The Arkansas victory evens the three game series 1-1 heading into the final game on Monday.
Despite a strong defensive performance led by junior pitcher Payton McBride, the Aggies struggled to gain traction offensively. McBride, who pitched a complete game, threw a personal best nine strikeouts in the loss.
“I trusted my pitches more tonight," McBride said. "Knowing that I have done the work up until this point and that my pitches were as good as they were going to get [helped] to just go out there and do what you know how to do.”
With both pitching staff's not letting up, both teams were quiet on offense through the first two innings. However, the end of the second brought a surge of Arkansas offense before fielding by A&M's freshman infielder Kayla Garcia and junior catcher Kelly Martinez brought an abrupt end to the Arkansas effort.
In the third, the Aggies started to gain some momentum offensively. A base hit by Martinez and a single by junior outfielder Kelbi Fortenberry put two Aggies in scoring position.
Despite best efforts, the offense fell flat, leaving two runners stranded at the conclusion of the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Arkansas' hitters began to find their rhythm. Outstanding efforts by the Aggies' defense prevented the Razorbacks from getting into scoring position.
Freshman infielder Baylee Klingler and Garcia had a pair of grabs, earning the first two outs. To end the inning, Riley Sartain, the lone Aggie senior, fielded a hard shot deep in the hole by Arkansas’ Kayla Green to earn the final out.
At the top of the seventh, both teams were still neck-and-neck in a scoreless tie. McBride pitched an 1-2-3 inning, retiring all three batters she faced.
With the opportunity to end the game, the Aggies headed into the bottom of the seventh. Despite getting a runner on early, A&M was still unable to gain any momentum, sending the game into extra innings.
The top of the eighth saw a huge swing in momentum for the Razorbacks. A walk by the Razorbacks' Hannah McEwn and a single to center field by Danielle Gibson put two runners on for Arkansas. Senior Razorback Katie Warrick, who had been 0-for-3 on the day, hit an three-run home run to give Arkansas the first lead of the game, and ultimately the win.
With a chance at a comeback in the bottom of the eighth, Fortenberry earned a single for the Aggies with a bunt, putting a runner on base. A&M’s offense was quiet for the rest of the inning, with Klingler and Garcia earning the final two outs to end the game.
Despite the team’s offensive struggles, Evans said she trusts her team’s ability to get themselves out of tough situations.
“We weren’t perfect on the night, but it was a night where we still made plays and got ourselves out of jams and we haven’t always done that,” Evans said.
With the series tied, A&M will face off with Arkansas on Monday at 6 p.m. as the Aggies look to take their first SEC series victory of the year.