Everything went the Aggies way on a clear, blue-sky day in Davis Diamond Stadium.
Texas A&M’s senior pitcher Makinzy Herzog was the Aggies’ star. In her first game back since missing time with a shoulder injury, she made sure to let everyone know that she is better than ever.
No. 5 Florida (24-3, 3-2 SEC) fell to Texas A&M (17-9, 1-4 SEC) 5-0 in game two Saturday afternoon, bringing the series to a Sunday decision. Florida took on elite pitching talent but failed to overcome the obstacle.
After letting freshman Kendra Falby walk, Herzog led three-straight strikeouts. After that, she had little to no mistakes in her impeccable pitching.
With a weak start in the first inning, the Gators were unable to find their momentum early on in the game. Fifth-year pitcher Natalie Lugo threw a perfect out against freshman Koko Wooley but could not find the plate later on.
With bases loaded, all eyes went on junior Shaylee Ackerman as she stepped up to the plate for Texas A&M. With a calm demeanor, she hit a grand slam that launched the Aggies to a 4-0 lead in her first plate appearance.
This was only the second home run Lugo has allowed this year, the first coming against Oakland in the UCF Knights Classic.
Ackerman sent her grand slam right over center field, providing just enough distance to barely make it over the wall. The Gators were frantic to climb out of the 4-0 hole they were in early in the game.
Lugo gathered up three total walks in the game by the bottom of the second. Head coach Tim Walton met with Lugo in the circle once she let her fourth walk of the day through.
Lugo, trying to keep the Aggie lead at four, relied heavily on the Florida defense to successfully do so.
Sophomore Katie Kistler had the Gators’ first hit of the game in the top of the third. Herzog was quick to recover, though, striking out freshman Kendra Falby swinging.
Freshman pitcher Lexi Delbrey came in for Lugo in the bottom of the third after she allowed four runs, the most she has allowed this season. Coming into a high-pressure situation, Delbrey kept her composure and held Texas A&M hitless for the inning.
However, as Herzog returned to the circle, she showed no sign of slowing down blazing the ball relentlessly past some of Florida’s best hitters.
Herzog gave a stellar performance with a career-high fifteen strikeouts in the game, eleven swinging and three looking.
Working well with the infield behind her, Delbrey gave the Gators a bit of relief on the defensive side, but they remained unable to crack Herzog’s pitching strategies.
Freshman Sam Roe and Kistler finally managed to crack the code in the top of the fifth, taking first and second base. However, their attempts came up unsuccessful as Herzog struck out Falby looking for the second time in the game.
Previously, the Gators nearly suffered a big upset in the first game of the series. Pulling through in the last two innings and defeating the Aggies 3-2, Florida avoided disaster. All eyes were on Herzog to see if she would prevent this from happening for the second time.
Junior Rylee Trlicek took the circle, relieving Delbrey of pitching duties in the bottom of the fifth. The Hallettsville, Texas, native’s performance faltered early on, walking Aggies senior Haley Lee for her second free-trip of the game.
Redshirt freshman Alexis Tippit, who pinch ran for Lee, stole second and advanced to third, putting herself in the position to score. Right after, sophomore Rylen Wiggins was up to bat. Hitting her seventh double of the year, she let Tippet score the Aggies' fifth and final runs.
Entering the top of the seventh, Texas A&M hoped to keep Florida from rallying together another comeback. Herzog's pitching did just that, ending the game in that very frame.
The Gators return to the field Sunday at 1 p.m. to clinch the series. The matchup will broadcast on SEC Network+.
Contact Vanessa Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @_vanessa_sanch.