Texas A&M Softball: Aggies pass final test before conference play

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

Texas A&M Softball improved to 18-3 on the season with a 4-1 weekend at the Texas A&M Invite, their final tune-up before SEC play.

The Texas A&M Invite served as a final test for the Aggies before conference play begins this week against Ole Miss. Overall, there were things that went well, things that didn’t go well, and things that went extremely well. The result was a 4-1 weekend that brought the Aggies’ overall record to 18-3 on the season.

Split on the first day

The first day saw the Aggies face Louisiana Tech and Utah. The game against Utah ended up becoming a pitchers’ duel that Maddie MacGrandle emerged on the right side of thanks to Kaitlyn Alderink’s solo home run, which proved to be the only run needed to put the Bulldogs away.

The next game, against Utah, proved to be one of those strange outliers where the Aggie pitching staff allowed hits in the double digits. Initially, the Aggies took an early 1-0 lead that the Utes immediately responded to. Then, back-to-back homers by Samantha Show and Kristen Cuyos made it 4-1, which ideally would have been enough to put most opponents away for the Aggie pitching staff.

However, it was one of those days. Utah then scored 7 unanswered runs to make it 8-4, giving Samantha Show her second loss of the season. However, credit the Aggies for not giving up prematurely and scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it 8-7 in a game that easily could have gone to extras or become a comeback win. Oh well, everyone has those kinds of days.

A bounce back and some good, filthy revenge

One thing I’ve noticed about the Aggies is, every time they suffer a loss, they do an extremely good job bouncing back.

That was on display throughout Saturday. Texas A&M and Texas State were initially tied, but the Aggies responded with four more of their own to essentially put that game away thanks to a 3-run Ashley Walters home run along with a Riley Sartain solo home run. The next inning, Keeli Milligan scored on a Tori Vidales RBI single, which was coincidentally Vidales’ 184th career RBI, putting her in second place all-time, ahead of Megan Gibson. Texas State made it 6-3 in the sixth with a 2-run shot, but that was all they got.

The next game was a big statement. After the Aggies allowed 13 hits to Utah in a close loss, Trinity Harrington threw a 1-hitter, coming one hit short of a no-hitter and perfect game. As with the Friday pitchers’ duel, Kaitlyn Alderink was directly responsible for the only run of the 1-0 victory.

After seeing her struggle against Butler and Nebraska (probably no thanks to bronchitis), it was nice to see Trin return to her dominant self.

We’re not doing another pitchers’ duel

Sunday’s final game against LA Tech went about as ideally as it could have gone. LA Tech actually struck first and even loaded the bases in the first inning, but that was all they got.

The Aggies got the scoring started in the second inning, taking a 3-1 lead thanks to a Kaitlyn Alderink 2 RBI double. The Bulldogs loaded the bases again the next half inning, but they never really threatened after that.

Riley Sartain ended up having a huge game, with home runs in back-to-back at bats. Sartain started with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-1. That inning would end up with a 6-1 lead thanks to  two bases-loaded walks.

The bottom of the fourth was the decisive frame. As I said above, Riley Sartain had home runs in back-to-back at bats, and her solo shot in the frame made it 7-1. The Aggies then ended up loading the bases with two outs. No problem for Kaitlyn Alderink, who knocked in 2 runs thanks to a single, making it 9-1. Keeli Milligan then scored the 10th run on a throwing error, and that was game.

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In summary, the Aggies only needed five innings to defeat a team that they got into a pitchers’ duel with not 48 hours earlier. That’s a statement. This was also a very high passing grade on the final test before conference play.

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