NORMAN, OKLA. - The Gophers started their rematch with Texas A&M swinging hot bats, the Aggies ended it hitting even better.
The result: Minnesota lost 10-7 in an elimination game on Saturday in the Norman Regional of the NCAA softball tournament. The Gophers led 5-1 after three innings, but the Aggies (31-27)scored six runs in the top of the sixth to take an 8-6 lead and added two more runs in the seventh.
Freshman Katie Dack's two-run homer in the sixth broke a 6-all tie. It was her seventh homer in 15 games.
The Gophers got four runs in the first inning to take a 4-1 lead against Texas A&M, which beat them 5-1 the day before. Makenna Dowell and Kayla Chavez each had two-run singles in the first inning for Minnesota (27-26-1). Chavez, a freshman third baseman, drove in another run on a sacrifice fly in the third and Natalie DenHartog hit a solo homer, her 19th, one shy of tying the program single-season record, in the fourth.
Lauren Espalin doubled in the sixth and scored on a passed ball for the Gophers' final run. While Minnesota was scoring single runs, the Aggies had 15 hits and had that big outburst in the sixth against freshman Emily Leavitt, who was the winning pitcher in the Gophers' first elimination game Saturday.
They beat Prairie View A&M 13-1, taking a 7-0 lead on nine hits in the bottom of the first before the Lady Panthers (20-30) got an out.
"Just to leave it all out on the line today," coach Piper Ritter told her players before the game, according to an in-game interview with ESPN. "You've got to fight every inning, every pitch."
Chloe Evans and Emily Hansen each hit two-run homers for the Gophers (27-25-1) in their big first inning outburst. In between those blasts, they got their first run on DenHartog's double and the final two runs on Chavez's single and an error.
Megan Dray's two-run homer in the second made it 9-0.
The Gophers scored four more runs in the fourth to take a 13-0 lead on a Nani Valencia's bases-loaded walk, an error which got two runners home and MacKenzie Denson's RBI single.
Prairie View A&M, which only had two hits, scored its run in the fifth off reliever Ansleigh Hollifield on a ground out. Leavitt pitched the first four innings, giving up one hit while striking out seven.