The Texas A&M softball team made the trip to the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Monday night for game one of the NCAA Championship series, but they left their attitude—and apparently their bats—back at their hotel in Bricktown.
But don't expect that to happen again in game two on Tuesday night.
"I don't if we were just satisfied with last night or what happened but we weren't ourselves today," said A&M senior Jami Lobpries, who was one of two A&M starters to record a base hit against Arizona State pitcher Katie Burkhart. "We didn't look like the Texas A&M softball team that we think we are. Then again we can look at that as a good thing because we know if we are ourselves we can come out and beat that team."
Burkhart, who is the No. 2 strikeout pitcher in the nation, racked up 11 Aggie strikeouts in game one, but Lobpries said that the Aggies should not be intimidated heading into game two.
"I think she's a good pitcher, I don't take anything away from her but we've faced good pitchers before so that's not an excuse," Lobpries said. "We've seen Angela Tincher, we've seen Stacey Nelson, you know you're going to face good pitchers but if we have better approaches, she's hittable."
But the Aggies can't hit the ball if they don't swing the bats.
If the Aggies are going to have a shot at evening the series and forcing a decisive game three on Wednesday night, they'll have to change their approach at the plate and attack Burkhart, putting the ball in play and forcing Arizona State to make plays defensively.
The Aggies were extremely passive at the plate all night, allowing Burkhart to get ahead of the A&M hitters time and time again. Burkhart threw 15 first-pitch strikes—nine of which were called strikes, which frustrated A&M head coach Jo Evans more than anything.
"You have to believe in your approach and I'm a little frustrated that we didn't. We're smarter and better than that," Evans said. "(Burkhart) threw a lot of first pitch strikes that we took and we put ourselves in a bit of a hole. There were pitches that I felt got plate and if you're not aggressive, you're not going to be able to attack those pitches. We just need to make adjustments offensively and I definitely feel like we can come out tomorrow and learn from our at bats today. I don't think there's any no reason we can't come out and put some runs on the board."
The Aggies will have to get more production from the second half of the lineup. Megan Gibson and Jami Lobpries, who collected the only two hits of the night for A&M, have consistently swung the bats well this week in Oklahoma City, but that won't be enough to knock off Arizona State for the Aggies' first NCAA championship—in any sport—in more than 20 years.
"We've got some kids who came in from super regional who were really swinging the bat well and they were hot right now they're not. We've got to get some more kids in our lineup feeling good about themselves. Most of the time it just takes one quality at bat, it might not even be a base hit, it might be a line shot, it might be a walk but you just need that one at bat and then you're ready to go. We need more people to believe and it's going to be contagious, I believe that's going to happen (in game two)."
Tuesday night's game is the seventh NCAA Tournament elimination game the Aggies have played in over the last two seasons, and if the 5-1 record in those first six games is any indication, A&M will not just hand over the national title without a fight.
First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Ags must change approach in game two
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