Wooley sends A&M to SEC semifinals with walk-off against South Carolina


After waiting over 18 hours for the weather to cooperate, Texas A&M softball finally got the chance to start the SEC Tournament in Auburn, Alabama on Friday, May 10. After receiving a first round bye, the Aggies awaited South Carolina in the quarterfinals for a chance at facing reigning SEC Champion Florida in the semifinals.

Despite a tightly defended game, the Maroon and White broke away from the Gamecocks in the last inning with a walk-off two run RBI blast from Junior SS Koko Wooley to secure the 3-2 win.

The Gamecocks got off to a hot start with senior 2B Denver Bryant reaching off a fielding error by junior SS Koko Wooley, then senior CF Riley Blampied smacked a double to right-center field while Bryant was thrown out at home.

Following suit, senior 1B Jen Cummings hit an RBI single to right field allowing Blampied to round the bases and take an early 1-0 lead. Afterwards, senior DP Aniyah Black continued the hitting streak with her own single down the left field line.

Junior LHP Emiley Kennedy, or “Lefty,” found herself in a tough situation after walking senior RF Kianna Jones, creating a bases-loaded nightmare.

Former Aggie now Gamecock redshirt junior LF Bre Warren stepped up to face her former teammate, but Kennedy kept her composure and struck her out to end the frame, minimizing the damage.

After coach Trisha Ford’s decision to lead off with graduate CF Jazmine Hill, freshman RHP Sage Mardjetko sat her down with three strikes to start the lineup.

Senior DP Trinity Cannon responded by launching the next pitch past the left field fence for a tying solo home run.

Pitching stepped up for both teams in the second, Kennedy and Mardjetko picked up two strikeouts each, pushing the stalemate into the next inning.

In the top of the third, Kennedy was dealing strikeouts again, adding three more around senior 3B Zoe Laneaux’s solo home run past center field, which pushed South Carolina in front 2-1.

“Lefty” amounted 10 strikeouts in all seven innings and only allowed two runs in the close-fought defensive battle.

In the top of the sixth, the Maroon and White defense was tested once again by Laneaux with a single up the middle, then Cummings reached first on a fielder’s choice.

Kennedy struck out Black, then Jones singled to center field, advancing to second on the throw. With runners at third and second, Kennedy forced a pop fly and stranded both to end the Gamecocks’ at-bat.

Desperate for a tying run in the Aggies’ last at-bat in the bottom of the seventh, junior LF Kramer Eschete was walked before the Gamecocks decided to change out Mardjetko for All-American fifth-year RHP Alana Vawter.

Despite the fierce new competition, sophomore 3B Kennedy Powell lined up a perfectly placed single up the middle, pushing Eschete to second.

Vawter then struck out Hill before walking Cannon, which loaded the bases with Fightin’ Farmers.

Wooley looked focused as she approached the box next, despite her previous struggles which resulted in a strikeout and a groundout.

Like out of a movie, Wooley stepped up and sent the pitch to center field, falling just out of reach of Blampied’s glove for a walk-off two-RBI double to send the Aggies past the Gamecocks and into the semifinals.

“I believed in myself and trusted in the process,” Wooley said. “[Even] though I got out a couple of times before, I just knew I could do it. I settled down, I settled in, took my time and just made it happen.”

Next, A&M will remain at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Alabama for the next round of the SEC Tournament. It will be facing off against Florida on Friday night to decide which team will head to the SEC Championship.