COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The 10th-ranked Texas A&M softball team will step on the home diamond for the first time this season as it hosts the Aggie Classic, Friday through Sunday, at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Pittsburgh (0-0), No. 23 North Carolina (5-2) and Stephen F. Austin (2-4) will make the trip to College Station for the four-team, 10-game tournament.
The Aggies will play Pitt at 3 p.m. on Friday, followed by a game against UNC at 5:15 p.m. On Saturday, the Aggies and Tar Heels will rematch at 3 p.m. before A&M plays Pitt one last time at 5:15 p.m. A&M and SFA will face off at 12:15 p.m. Sunday.
Non-A&M games will be played at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 10 a.m. on Sunday. For more information on the Aggie Classic, visit the official tournament page here.
LAST TIME OUT
Entering the national top 10 after returning from a weekend in California with a 4-0 record on the season, A&M traveled to Huntsville for a single game at Sam Houston State. The team returned to Aggieland with an 8-0 run-rule victory and a perfect 5-0 record on the season. Senior Mel Dumezich (4-0) threw five complete innings, striking out 10 of 16 batters faced and allowing just one runner on base. Sophomore Lauren Ainsley stepped in to finish the game and threw two strikeouts in her one inning in the circle. Junior Nicole Morgan continued to dominate at the plate, slugging a pair of home runs and one single in four at-bats to collect four RBI and two runs scored on the day. Senior Meagan May also had a big outing with two hits, including a solo home run.
The No. 23 Tarheels, were the 2012 ACC regular season champions with a 43-15 record overall and a 13-4 mark in conference play and made a run to the NCAA Tournament. UNC returns 15 letterwinners from last season's squad. Opening the season in the Tiger Classic Challenge, UNC dropped its first two contests against Tulsa, 3-1, and LSU, 8-0, but the Tarheels rebounded in Baton Rouge, defeating Purdue in extra innings, 2-1 (9), run ruling Hampton, 10-0, and avenging the early loss against LSU, 3-1, to round out the tournament. UNC played a doubleheader against Radford on Wednesday, taking both contests, 7-1 and 7-3. Offensively, the Tarheels are led by Tisha Mahon who has a .500 average on the season. In the circle, UNC is led by Lori Spingola with a 3-1 record, including a 1.61 ERA and 26 strikeouts on 28 innings pitched. Texas A&M holds a 3-1 edge over UNC.
The Panthers are coming off of a 26-26 season with an 8-14 record in Big East play. The Panthers return five starters from that squad. Pacing the offense this season will be senior Holly Stevens who hit .269 last year with nine homers and 25 RBI, sophomore Maggie Sevilla with a .245 average, 8 long balls and 26 RBI and sophomore Carissa Throckmorton who earned a .234 average and 24 RBI. Savannah King led all pitchers last season with a 19-16 record and a 1.72 ERA to go along with 196 strikeouts. This will mark the first ever meeting between the two squads.
SCOUTING STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
The Ladyjacks are coming off a 16-33 season. SFA returns eight letterwinners and four starters from last year's team. The Ladyjacks started the season at the Kajikawa Classic where they earned wins against Creighton, 4-3, and San Diego State, 2-1. Currently the Lumberjacks have a 2-4 record through the early part of the season. As a team, the Lumberjacks are batting .193 with 11 runs scored. Leading the offense is junior Cadie Weaver with a .368 average, two home runs and three RBI. Carlie Thomas has been the leading pitcher with a 2-1 record, a 3.38 ERA and 28 strikeouts on 24 innings pitched. Texas A&M holds a 52-5 record all-time against the Lumberjacks.
Stephen F. Austin head coach Gay McNutt was a four-year starter at catcher for the Aggies from 1982-85. During her time at A&M, she helped the team to the program's first and second national championships (1982 AIAW, 1983 NCAA). McNutt was a four-year all-region selection and was honored as a member of the All-America team her senior year.
The Aggies' success in their first weekend as a Southeastern Conference team showed in the SEC rankings as the team tops league members in several areas through Sunday's games (Feb. 10). A&M's 0.84 ERA is an SEC best, as are team slugging percentage (.713), home runs (12), fewest earned runs allowed (3), fewest walks allowed (5) and fewest doubles allowed (1). Individually, Morgan leads the SEC in slugging percentage (1.462) and home runs (4) and is second in RBI (10). Ainsley is one of just three hurlers with a perfect ERA, and leads the league in opposing batting average (.071), while Dumezich ranks first in wins (3) and games started (3), and sits at second in strikeouts thrown (23).
A&M started the season ranked No. 17 in both national polls and is now sitting at No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 and No. 11 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. The Aggies' 2013 opponents in the polls are No. 2/1 Alabama, No. 4/4 Tennessee, No. 5/5 Florida, No. 7/8 Missouri, No. 11/10 LSU, No. 13/14 Michigan, No. 14/13 Georgia, No. 15/15 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 22/24 Kentucky and No. 23 North Carolina. In addition, North Carolina and Mississippi State are receiving votes.
The Aggies will play 53 regular-season games in 2013, 29 of those being in the friendly confines of the Aggie Softball Complex. The team will also host four SEC series. A&M's challenging schedule includes matchups against three conference champions, 11 NCAA Regional teams, five NCAA Super Regional teams and three Women's College World Series (WCWS) teams from the 2012 season, including reigning National Champion Alabama.
Of the 22 different known teams the Aggies will play in 2013, 10 ended the 2012 season in the top 50 in national RPI standings, six are in the top 25 and two are in the top five. The average final RPI for the Aggies' opponents this season is 56, while the average RPI for the SEC teams A&M will play is 27. Only one SEC school on the Aggies' schedule - No. 92 Ole Miss - did not make the final RPI top 50 in 2012.
BACK IN ACTION
A&M welcomes 14 letterwinners and nine starters back to the team. All-American seniors Meagan May and Mel Dumezich highlight the returners, along with fellow 2012 All-Central Region selections juniors Cassie Tysarczyk and Emily Albus. The 2012 Aggies led the Big 12 with seven conference honors as Dumezich, junior Nicole Morgan and Tysarczyk were selected to the first team and Albus, May, then-junior Brittany Walker and then-senior Natalie Villarreal took second-team awards.
Five newcomers will also make their SEC debut: Freshmen Alex Masek (Giddings, Texas), Cali Lanphear (Montgomery, Texas), Breanna Dozier (Rowlett, Texas) and Kristen Davenport (Deer Park, Texas), and junior transfer Rachel Fox (Sugar Land, Texas) who will redshirt this season due to SEC rules.
Also new to the team is Director of Softball Operations Terry Schweikert. The former Missouri softball standout joins the team from Corona, Calif., where she was the Director of Teamsmith, a travel softball organization. At Teamsmith, Schweikert oversaw eight youth softball teams in the 10U-18U divisions.
A familiar face who has joined the Aggies in a new capacity is Volunteer Pitching Coach Rhi Kliesing. The former Aggie pitcher and first baseman spent time on the diamond from 2008-11 and was Evans' student assistant last season.
Individual game and season tickets may be purchased over the phone at 1-888-99-AGGIE OR 979-845-2311, online at Tickets.12thManFoundation.com, or in person at The Zone at Kyle Field ticket office.
Season tickets are currently available for just $125, while individual game tickets for softball are $10 for reserved (sections 4-8) and $8 for General Admission (sections 1-3). Youth GA tickets are available for $5 each. Group rates are also available to groups of at least 20, and cost $8 for reserved seats and $3 for GA.
Junior Aggie Club members are admitted free of charge to all Aggie softball games. Membership to the JAC is just $25, and information is available at www.JuniorAggieClub.com.
The "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" promotion returns in 2013, allowing four (4) kids under 12 to be admitted free on Sundays with the purchase of one adult ticket. All seats in this promotion are General Admission. Children must be accompanied by an adult purchasing a ticket to qualify for the promotion. Everyone, regardless of age, is required to have a ticket in the General Admission section, though GA tickets for children under 2 are free of charge.
Parking for all Aggie softball games is available in Reed Arena lot 100G and Olsen Field lot 100J. Visitors may park for free when there is not a conflict with an A&M men's basketball or baseball game. This does not include 24-hour numbered, 12th Man or timed spaces. Visit transportation.tamu.edu for more information.
EVERY GAME ON
All of the Aggie softball team's games this season will be broadcast by The Zone. Select games will be aired locally on Sports Radio 1150 The Zone, while the remaining contests can be heard on any smartphone or HD radio worldwide via 95.1-3 The Zone HD. Links to the online broadcasts for each game can be found at RadioAggieland.com and AggieAthletics.com.
The Zone's Program Director, Louie Belina (away), and Tim Schnettler (home) will be calling the pitch-by-pitch, with David Batson providing color commentary. Former Texas A&M softball Director of Operations Stephen Grove will add analysis in select games as well.
WATCH THE AGGIES
For the 10th straight season, 12th Man TV will bring Aggies around the globe live video of Texas A&M softball.
Fans will be able to watch all non-televised Aggie home games, along with select road games, through the all-new 12th Man TV. Subscription packages start at $11.95/month and include exclusive live and on-demand content not found anywhere else. For more information log on to aggieathletics.com.
AGGIES ON THE
At least three Aggie softball games will be played on national television this season. A&M's April 13 home game vs. LSU will be aired on ESPN at 2:30 p.m., while the Sunday, April 14, game between the two schools will be broadcast live at 12:30 p.m. on FSN. ESPNU will televise the A&M-Tennessee matchup on March 23 in Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to the three regular season games, the ESPN Network will show the entire SEC Tournament nationwide, including the two play-in games. All times are Central.
Stephen F. Austin will return to the Aggie Softball Complex for a Wednesday doubleheader. Game times are set for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.