No. 24 Texas A&M softball dropped the opening game of this weekend’s series against No. 4 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Thursday night. The Aggies’ overall record fell to 25-6, 4-3 in SEC play following the 11-3 loss.
A dominant offensive showing by the Crimson Tide included a pair of five-run innings that proved to be too overwhelming for the Aggies to overcome.
Alabama got its bats going immediately with an RBI single followed by a grand slam to conclude the first inning to make it a lopsided 5-0 from the start.
A handful of Aggies responded with a few hits in the third inning but were unable to bring any across. Alabama managed to bring another one around in the bottom of the third to extend its lead to 6-0, which prompted A&M to go to its bullpen.
Senior Kayla Poynter was called on to relieve junior Makinzy Herzog after 2.2 innings. Together, the pair recorded four strikeouts but tallied an uncharacteristically high number of walks (7) and batters hit (2) in the five innings played.
A&M coach Evans reviewed her pitching staff’s performance and said the number of players they allowed on base due to walks or batters hit didn’t put the team in position to battle back.
“That really put us in a big hole and [Alabama] did a really nice job of taking advantage of it,” Evans said. “I don’t know, maybe seven of those runs scored — that’s tough. You put yourself in a hole when you’re chasing walks and hit batters and errors, I think there were three errors for us out there. That can’t happen. You try to beat a quality team and quality pitcher, we have to clean it up a bit for sure.”
A&M’s bats came alive in the fifth inning and Alabama’s stayed hot with a total of eight runs scored between the two teams, three by the Aggies.
Seniors Kelbi Fortenberry and Ashlynn Walls managed to get on base before junior Haley Lee sent the ball flying over the fence. Lee’s home run marked her 13th of the season and shortened Alabama’s lead to 6-3.
Evans said she was pleased to see her team battle at the plate and get some runs on the board when they did. Between innings Evans said she encouraged the Aggies to keep fighting while emphasizing the importance of extending the game to give themselves a chance and tire out Alabama’s pitcher.
“I was pleased with the way our kids kept fighting back and those three runs really were important to us and put us back in the game. But then, our walks and our errors really caught up to us,” Evans said.
The Crimson Tide managed to load the bases twice in the bottom half of the fifth and capitalized on the momentum with a handful of base hits that drove in the final five runs before the game was called.
“Tip your hat to Alabama, they took advantage of all of our mistakes and our walks and hit batters,” Evans said. “We just have to be better. We have to come out and be better.”
A&M will continue its series against Alabama with the second game scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m.