No. 24 Texas A&M softball is riding a five-game win streak as the team travels to Tuscaloosa this weekend to take on No. 4 Alabama.
The maroon and white recorded two wins on Tuesday night as they hosted A&M-Corpus Christi for a doubleheader resulting in 7-0 and 9-2 wins for A&M. These mid-week victories advanced A&M’s record to 25-5 overall and marked the Aggies’ 11th and 12th shutouts of the season.
The Aggies recorded a total of six home runs en route to their back-to-back victories over the Islanders. Sophomore Shaylee Ackerman and senior Dani Elder each recorded two home runs, along with one each from juniors Makinzy Herzog and Haley Lee — Lee’s being her 12th of the season.
A&M coach Jo Evans looked ahead to this weekend’s opponent and said she feels good about how the team is playing, especially after a powerful performance at the plate from the Aggies on Tuesday.
“I think we’re feeling good, I think we have a reason to feel good,” Evans said. “We’re throwing well and putting up some runs and overall playing pretty good defense. Overall, we understand that we’re going to hit an Alabama team that is really, really good. They’ll be the best team we’ve played so far this year. I like that we’re coming into it playing well and taking care of business [Tuesday] night.”
Evans said this weekend’s series will be a challenge because of how experienced Alabama is and how many veteran players are listed on their roster. Additionally, Evans said Alabama’s ball club has a talented pitching staff and several lefties in their lineup that the Aggies will have to manage.
“They’re a veteran team, and what makes them really great is they have that stability in those mature players and they’ve got a pitching staff that’s very good,” Evans said. “They’re a really terrific team, but there’s no reason we can’t compete against Alabama. I don’t want us to go in feeling any sort of intimidation or feeling like we’re going to have to play perfect to beat them — we’re not. We’re not going to have to play perfect, but we’re going to have to play very well.”
The Crimson Tide is coming off two consecutive losses on the road against No. 7 Kentucky. Despite this weekend being a new series and a fresh opponent, Evans said the team should anticipate Alabama coming out hungry to get back in the win column while feeling comfortable back on their home field.
“Kentucky stirred up a hornet’s nest I’m sure and we’re going to be the beneficiary of that and we’re going to have to manage that,” Evans said. “It’s a war, so we’re going to battle. There's no question that they’re going to have a sense of urgency and feeling really good about being back home and getting comfortable. There’s nothing better than stubbing your toe on the road and getting back home.”
With A&M making an appearance in ESPN’s Top 25 Poll this week at No. 24, Evans said the Aggies are no longer under the radar. Regardless of where teams stand in the rankings, Evans said she thinks all SEC coaches respect every team and know that anybody can beat anybody on any given day.
“People are starting to pay attention, and in one respect that’s good — we want to be respected,” Evans said. “We don’t want to be dismissed and have people think that we can’t compete at the highest level. It’s our job to earn people’s respect.”
This week’s schedule is a challenging one for the Aggies, Evans said. The team had Monday off from practice, a double-header on Tuesday and now is set to face a highly ranked SEC opponent beginning Thursday, a day earlier than most series are played.
Evans said the schedule is not ideal by any means, which made for an abnormal week of preparation heading into this weekend’s series, but in the end, A&M will have to make the most of its situation.
The Aggies will take the field on Thursday, April 1 at 5 p.m. for the opening game of the series against Alabama at Rhoads Stadium.