Texas A&M 3, Penn State 2

May 21, 2005

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- In a tail of the long ball, No. 5 Texas A&M may have lost the battle 2-1, but their three-run shot in the top of the fourth inning helped them win the war with Penn State, 3-2, in NCAA regional softball action on Saturday at the Aggie Softball Complex. The Lions (35-22) will now play the winner of the Centenary vs. McNeese State game, which is in progress. Texas A&M will see action next on Sunday, May 22, facing the winner of tonight's Penn State game, which starts at 5:30 p.m. CT, 6:30 p.m. ET.

The tournament is a double elimination format, so the winner of tonight's game will need to beat the Aggies twice on their homefield Sunday to advance to the NCAA Super Regional next weekend, May 28-29.

Penn State looked to get momentum early and shut down the Aggies, who were the visitors for the game, on their home field. The Lions got three-up and three-down in the top of the first inning, including a spectacular catch from leftfielder Jen Williams (Stillwater, Okla.), scooping up a Jana James potential double off the grass on the run for out No. 3.

Both teams alternated three-up and three-down into the top of the fourth inning when Penn State got into a little trouble. After three strikeouts in the game, Lion starter Missy Beseres (Golden Valley, Minn.) issued two straight one-outs walks to Aggie batters. PSU head coach Robin Petrini went to her reserves immediately, calling freshman Jenn Reynolds (Clovis, Calif.) in to end the threat. Reynolds got the next two batters in order, stranding Texas A&M runners at second and third and keeping the game scoreless.

In the Lions' half of the inning, freshman Jen Acunto (Hollywood, Fla.) started it out by sending her 10th homerun of the season high over the leftfield fence careening off the upper part of the scoreboard at the Aggie Softball Complex. Two batters later, and not to be outdone by her classmate, freshman first team all-region utility player Ashley Esparza (San Pedro, Calif.) sent a Megan Gibson pitch long over the fence in dead centerfield for the Lions' second hit of the day, both on homeruns. The Lions' took the 2-0 lead into the fifth inning.

A&M put baserunners on again in the top of the fifth, and this time the Lions couldn't keep the Aggies off the scoreboard. Reynolds issued a walk to Rocky Spencer to start the inning, and after a fielder's choice and a single from Adrian Gregory, the Aggies had a pair of runners on base with only one out. Reynolds fought back and struck out the next batter, but it was pinch hitter Nicole Robinson that hit a huge two-out three-run homerun that bounced on top of the rightfield fence and over to give the Aggies a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.

A walk to start the top of the sixth inning prompted the Lions' second pitching change of the day, and this time it was Esparza's turn in the circle. Esparza retired the next three Aggies on two straight groundouts and a fly out to bring Penn State to the plate again. The pitcher tried to help her own cause, beating out a single to the shortstop with two outs for her second hit of the day. The Lions ran out of time in the inning, however, and went back into the field still down 3-2.

After the Aggies lined into a double play to a leaping Acunto, who picked it out of the air and threw it to first to get the lead runner, another fly-out to the Lion's second team all-Great Lakes region shortstop gave PSU its last stand at the plate.

With one out, Aggie leftfielder James robbed Reynolds of a hit with a diving catch. Junior third baseman Destinie Chavez (San Leandro, Calif.) then hit a looping single over the shortstop's head into leftfield, keeping the Lions' alive. It was not to be for PSU, however, as the ensuing batter grounded out to the pitcher.

-- Courtesy PSU