Texas A&M Softball: Aggies have solid showing at Mary Nutter Classic

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Texas A&M softball faced their toughest challenges of the young season at the Mary Nutter Classic. The results were mixed, but positive.

Texas A&M softball had mixed yet still solid results last weekend at the Mary Nutter Classic at Cathedral City, California. Starting Thursday, the Aggies faced five teams, all of them representing the toughest challenge of their season to date. The Aggies didn’t do it with flying colors, but they passed this early season test, proving that they are worthy of their Top 10 ranking.

Close contest and the season’s first loss

The first two games were played as a doubleheader last Thursday, The first came against Notre Dame and the second against Nebraska. The Aggies didn’t steamroll like they’ve done against teams the past two weeks. The Notre Dame game was close, with both teams’ pitching staffs not giving an inch. That is, until Sarah Hudek hit a 2-run homer to break a game that had been tied 3-3 for a good chunk of it. After the score became 5-3, Samantha Show took care of the rest, and the Aggies moved to 10-0 on the season.

The second game was a bit of a doozy. Sometimes, you’ve got and sometimes, you don’t. The Aggies had survived plenty of close calls, but this was the one that caught up to them. It was close early, but Nebraska managed to take control late in the game thanks to a 4-run inning. Despite the late chances A&M had, it would be the Aggies’ first loss of the season. I didn’t get to watch the game, but if Trinity Harrington still has bronchitis symptoms, she needs time to recover.

Beating two ranked teams

Despite splitting Thursday, the Aggies showed that they’re still very much a Top 10 team. How did they respond to their first loss? By beating two ranked teams in a row and in convincing fashion.

The first game of the doubleheader was against No. 5 Oregon. I figured this one could have gone either way, but I’ll always defer to my Aggies. With Lexi Smith in the circle, Oregon actually struck first after loading the bases in the third. However, Smith only allowed five total hits, and as a result, that was the only run the Ducks had. Keep in mind that this was one of the hottest offenses in the country. A 3-run sixth inning thanks in part to an Oregon error put the game away for good.

California was a little different. With Maddie MacGrandle pitching, the Aggies won 5-1 in a game that they basically controlled the whole way.

Giving No. 1 all they could handle

Speaking of games that could have gone either way, well, that’s generally what happens when a Top 10 team plays the top ranked team in the nation. I expected this one to essentially be a pitchers’ duel. I actually told one of my friends that the winner would be the first team to score three runs. Well, that’s exactly what happened.

A&M actually struck first with two runs in the first, but that wouldn’t last as Washington scored two the next inning. The game then remained scoreless for the next seven innings.

Washington scored two more runs in the ninth thanks to an Aggie error and an RBI. A&M then scored a run in their half and had chances to tie or even win, but a ground ball ended it.

Looking at the box score, A&M actually out-hit Washington but also had four errors compared to Washington’s one. I remember seeing quite a few during the game I went to. First of all, there’s no shame in losing to No. 1. That actually proves you’re an elite contender, especially if you lose in extra innings. Having said that, tighten up on the errors, and A&M actually could have won that game.

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Anyway, winning three out of five isn’t bad at all. Beating two out of three ranked teams and having one loss come to the top team in the nation really isn’t bad. I’d say the Aggies had a solid weekend. It wasn’t perfect, but they know what they need to work on. They have plenty of time to make adjustments for conference play.

***stats and info from 12thman.com***