By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
After playing some of its best softball of the season on Saturday, twice staving off elimination from the NCAA Tournament, Baylor hoped to keep riding the momentum from junior Gia Rodoni’s third career postseason no-hitter Sunday afternoon.
However, Mother Nature had other plans. With rain and severe storms rolling through Central Texas and making their way through to College Station, the original first pitch time of 1:30 p.m. was pushed a full six hours, forcing both teams to return to their hotels and regroup later.
When the two teams returned, Baylor would find its rhythm early, but two bizarre calls and a seven run fifth inning helped Texas A&M turn a 3-2 deficit into a 9-2 lead and an eventual 10-4 win, sending the Aggies to the Super Regionals, where they will take on No.2 Florida in Gainesville, Fla. next weekend.
Baylor got off to the start it was looking for as Rodoni worked around a two-out walk in the top of the first to keep the Aggies scoreless.
In the bottom half, sophomore third baseman Goose McGlaun brought sophomore second baseman Nicky Dawson home on a fielder’s choice ground ball to second.
Then in the second, junior outfielder Kyla Walker ripped an RBI double off the glove of the Aggies’ third baseman, rolling down the left field line, allowing freshman catcher Hannah Thompson to come around and score, giving the Lady Bears a 2-0 lead.
Texas A&M would come up with its first answer of the game, tying the game in the third.
After a walk and a stolen base, senior first baseman Tori Vidales and sophomore left fielder Kelbi Fortenberry would hit back-to-back RBI singles.
McGlaun would put Baylor back in front 3-2 with an RBI double to center field in the bottom of the third.
After a scoreless fourth for both teams, the tide would begin to shift to Texas A&M heading to the fifth.
Sophomore outfielder Sarah Hudek singled and stole second to open the frame, setting up the first controversial call.
With two strikes on her, Vidales swung through a pitch from Rodoni in the dirt and Thompson was forced to make a throw to first to record the out. Thompson’s throw was high and the call on the field was that senior first baseman Shelby Friudenberg had gotten her foot back down on the base in time to get the out.
However, the call was overturned and Vidales was ruled safe. Fortenberry then ripped an RBI double over the head of sophomore right fielder Maddison Kettler, tying the game at three.
A walk then loaded the bases for the Aggies.
Rodoni then retired the next two hitters, but walked senior shortstop Kristen Cuyos on four pitches, putting Texas A&M up 4-3.
With the No. 9 hitter, senior center fielder Erica Russell coming to the plate, Rodoni was one out away from getting out of a much bigger jam.
Russell’s at-bat all but finished the Lady Bears, but it wasn’t without a strange twist that worked out yet again for the hometown Aggies.
With two strikes and a Rodoni pitch moving inside, Russell leaned in and was hit on her elbow, sending her to first base and bringing in another run. However, after taking a closer look, Russell was called back to the plate because she leaned into the pitch, an illegal move in softball.
With new life at the plate, Russell then drilled a double down the right field line, clearing the bases and opening the floodgates on Baylor. The two-bagger would chase Rodoni from the circle and give way to junior Regan Green.
Green got ahead on junior pitcher Samantha Show 1-2, but then left a rise ball middle of the plate that Show escorted deep over the fence in left-center, bringing the pro-Aggie crowd to their feet and extending the lead to 9-3.
Friudenberg would get one back for Baylor, launching her ninth home run of the season, a solo shot just inside the foul pole in left field.
Texas A&M would get their 10th run on an infield RBI single on a ball that sophomore shortstop Taylor Ellis dove to her right to knock down, but had no other play but to hold it.
The Lady Bears would put two on in the sixth and one more in the seventh, but couldn’t summon one last dose of magic, as the final two Baylor hitters struck out, ending its season.
McGlaun led Baylor with three hits and two RBIs at the plate. Both Dawson and senior outfielder Jessie Scroggins had two hits apiece.
Scroggins also set the Baylor season record for batting average, finishing at .470.
Rodoni (24-12) took the loss, going 4 2/3, allowing eight runs on eight hits, walked five and struck out three.
Green went 2 1/3, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Baylor finishes the season 38-18 and will lose four seniors heading into next season—Scroggins, Friudenberg, catcher Carlee Wallace, who missed the entire regional due to a concussion and third baseman Caitlin Charlton, who was lost several weeks ago with a knee injury.
Texas A&M (43-16) advances to the Super Regionals for the second straight year and eliminates Baylor from the regional round for the second time in last six years.
The Aggies will take on No. 2 Florida, a team that swept them back in late March in Gainesville, Fla. with a spot in the Women’s College World Series on the line.