COLLEGE STATION, Texas – This weekend will mark the third consecutive time the Texas A&M softball team has hosted an NCAA Regional as the 16th-seeded Aggies welcome Penn, Baylor and Arizona to the Aggie Softball Complex.
The double-elimination College Station Regional will kick off Friday at 4:30 p.m. when Baylor and Arizona battle on the diamond, before A&M faces off with Penn at 7 p.m. All times are Central, and both of Friday’s games will be on ESPN2. (please note: game times for Friday ONLY have changed.)
One win away from an eighth 40-season under Head Coach Jo Evans, the Aggies received an at-large bid to their 24th-overall and 12th-straight NCAA Tournament after a 39-15 season in A&M’s first year in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Penn (30-18) was an automatic qualifier in the team’s first-ever postseason appearance after winning the Ivy League Tournament. Baylor (39-15, Big 12) and Arizona (32-24, Pac-12) were both at-large bids.
The College Station Regional was chosen by ESPN analyst Michele Smith as the toughest NCAA Regional site this season. Baylor’s storied softball history includes two trips to the Women’s College World Series, most recently making the trip to Oklahoma City in 2011. Arizona has won eight national championships under Head Coach Mike Candrea and has made 21 trips to the WCWS in the last 23 years. Penn makes its first appearance in the postseason, and is the only reigning conference champion to play at the Aggie Softball Complex this weekend.
All of the action this weekend can be viewed nationwide on the ESPN Networks. Friday’s match-ups will be featured on ESPN2, while the first two games on Saturday will be aired on ESPN. The last game of the day on Saturday can be watched on ESPNEWS. Sunday’s Championship, which could be played over two games if necessary, will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Pam Ward and Michele Smith will be on site to analyze the action of each game this weekend. Ward will call the pitch-by-pitch with Smith providing color commentary.
FIRST 100 A&M STUDENTS FREE
Thanks to the Texas A&M Softball Double Play Club, the first 100 A&M students through the gates each day will receive FREE admission to contests. This is the third consecutive year for the Double Play Club to make the generous donation. Current students should present a valid A&M ID at the gate to get the deal.
VS. THE FIELD
Arizona holds a 24-11 all-time advantage over the Aggies. The teams last met in a 2012 upset victory by A&M as the Aggies topped the No. 8 Wildcats at the Kajikawa Classic. Former Big 12 foes A&M and Baylor have played every year since 1996 but the rivalry dates back to 1980. The Aggies are 58-21-1 all-time vs. the Lady Bears. Last year A&M swept a three-game, split-site series with Baylor. A&M and Penn have never met on the softball diamond.
A&M IN THE POSTSEASON
The Aggies are making their 24th postseason showing in 2013, and have earned an NCAA Tournament berth for 12 consecutive years. A&M is 66-49 (.574) all-time in the postseason, winning three national championships (1982, 83, 87) and making 11 trips to the WCWS. The Aggies last traveled to Oklahoma City in 2008 when A&M was the national runner-up.
AGGIE RECORD CHASERS
The 2013 team either owns is chasing several all-time A&M softball records. Senior Meagan May is two RBI away from the career record of 183 and six walks away from the career record of 172. May already owns the school’s home run record for both career (64) and single-season (24, set in 2010). Senior Mel Dumezich ranks third all-time in career strikeouts thrown (918), innings pitched (877.2), wins (103) and home runs (47), and ranks fourth in RBI (143) and walks (102). May sits at third in total bases with 403.
In single-season records, May owns the records for RBI (62 in 2010), home runs (24 in 2010) and walks (56 in 2012). As a team, the Aggies got off to a program-best start with a 19-0 record at the beginning of the season. The Aggies also broke the single-season record for home runs with 90 so far this year. The previous record was 81 set in 2011.
Two Aggies earned All-SEC honors as utility players this week as Dumezich was named Second-Team All-SEC and freshman Cali Lanphear was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team. The accolades make Dumezich and Lanphear the first A&M softball players to be named All-SEC after the Aggies joined the league in July of 2012.
MORGAN AT ASA/USA WNT TRYOUTS
Junior Nicole Morgan has been invited to the ASA/USA Softball Selection Camp, set for June 9-13. If chosen for the national squad, Morgan will travel to and play in several exhibition and international events this summer, culminating in the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2014 World Championship qualifiers August 5-18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Dumezich threw three no-hitters over the span of 11 days for the Aggies, earning USA Softball National Player of the Week and SEC player of the Week honors on Feb. 26. The senior threw her career-first no-hitter against Stephen F. Austin (Feb. 20) and added a second vs. Southeastern Louisiana (Feb. 24) the same week. Dumezich’s third no-hitter in less than two weeks came against Illinois State and was her first seven-inning effort as the Aggies run-ruled SFA and SELU. Marking another milestone, Dumezich tossed her 100th career victory, against LSU, on April 12.
The Aggie defense has turned 15 double plays this season. Of the 15 two-out plays this season, 11 have been vs. SEC opponents, and all but two were against ranked teams.
GRAND SLAMS GALORE
The Aggies have proven to be a threat at the plate with bases loaded, pounding seven grand slams this season. Morgan and junior Amber Garza lead the way with three each. Morgan’s first four-RBI homer came early in the season as she topped the fence with three on base against Cal State Bakersfield on Feb. 9 for her second long ball of the game. On Feb. 17, Morgan plated four against Stephen F. Austin before clearing the bags at Missouri on March 9. Junior Amber Garza joined Morgan in the grand slam club with a four-RBI homer against Texas State on March 26 before adding her second and the team’s sixth against LSU on April 12. “Grand Slamber Garza” slugged a third shot against Alabama at the SEC Tournament on May 8 to tally three on the season and six on her career. Junior Cassie Tysarczyk created the fifth grand slam for the team when she went yard with bases loaded vs. Colorado State on April 5.
HOME RUN HITTERS
A&M has hit a program-best 90 home runs this season after freshman Cali Lanphear’s first-inning long ball against Ole Miss on April 27 broke the previous single-season record of 81, set in 2011. The Aggies hit 35 homers in SEC play, and two during their conference tournament debut. Lanphear leads the team and the SEC with 18 long balls, followed by Morgan with 15. May broke the program’s career home run record with 57 and reached the 60-bomb mark at Tennessee. Ten different Aggie hitters have gone yard this season, seven of them hitting in the double digits.
All-session passes are on sale now, while single-day tickets will go on sale Friday at 8 a.m. over-the-phone and in-person only. All-Regional tickets will be $25 for reserved, $20 for general admission and $15 for student/youth GA. Single-day tickets will be sold for $10 for reserved seats, $7 for GA and $5 for student/youth GA. Children under the age of two will be admitted for free.
To purchase all-session tickets, log on to 12thmanfoundation.com/tickets, call 979-845-2311 or 1-888-992-4443 (toll free), or go to the box office at The Zone at Kyle Field.
Parking this weekend will be FREE to the public. Fans should park in Reed Arena Lot 100g, across Tom Chandler Dr. from the Aggie Softball Complex, or at Olsen Field Lot 100j, across Olsen Blvd. from the complex.
LAST TIME OUT
A&M traveled to Lexington, Ky., last week for the SEC Tournament. The ninth-seeded Aggies fell to No. 8 seed Alabama, 10-9, in the first round despite scoring nine runs off of the reigning national champions and chasing Alabama ace Jackie Traina from the circle. The Aggies at one point trailed by five runs before a grand slam by junior Amber Garza and a two-run long ball by junior Cassie Tysarczyk pushed A&M ahead of the UA headed into the bottom of the seventh. The late rally wasn’t enough, however as the Crimson Tide used a two-RBI triple to grab the walk-off win and advance to the SEC Tournament quarterfinal round.
The winner of the College Station Regional will advance to the Super Regional round. No. 1 seed Oklahoma is hosting the Norman Regional, and if the Sooners win they will host the CS Regional victor next weekend. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.