COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 5 Texas A&M softball team (23-2) makes its home Southeastern Conference debut this weekend with a three-game league series against Arkansas (19-7) at the Aggie Softball Complex. Game one is set for a 7 p.m. Friday first pitch, followed by game two Saturday at 4 p.m. and the series finale Sunday at noon. All times are Central.
Fans wanting to keep up with this weekend's action should tune in to the live radio broadcasts during each game. All of this weekend's games are available locally on Sports Radio 1150 AM, and worldwide on AggieAthletics.com. 12th Man TV will also offer live video streaming on AggieAthletics.com for subscribers.
Aggie Softball drawstring bags will be given to the first 200 fans through the gates on Friday and Saturday, and to the first 100 fans in attendance on Sunday. Fans can also attend an autograph session with the team after the Aggies' Saturday game.
LAST TIME OUT
The Aggies stepped into their first-ever SEC series, at former Big 12 rival No. 5 Missouri. The Tigers earned a 2-0 walk-off victory in a pitchers' duel in game one, but A&M came back with a vengeance in game two, stunning Missouri with an 11-3 run-rule victory. The Aggies hit four home runs, including a third grand slam of the season by junior Nicole Morgan, to take the six-inning victory. Mizzou ace Chelsea Thomas was chased from the circle after giving up her first two homers of the season, both to Aggie freshman Cali Lanphear. Rain cancelled game three and the Aggies and Tigers split the series.
The Razorbacks reached the NCAA Tournament last season and, after winning two games, advanced to the program's first-ever Regional final before falling to No. 1 host school California to end the season with a 29-28 record and a 7-21 SEC mark. Arkansas is 19-7 this season and will play its first SEC series of the year in Aggieland. The team most recently hosted Stephen F. Austin in a single game on Tuesday, topping the Ladyjacks 9-2. The Razorbacks are led by Devon Wallace, who owns 31 hits, 32 runs, seven doubles, nine home runs, 19 RBI, 35 walks and a .492 average at the plate. In the circle, four different Arkansas pitchers have made at least eight appearances. Chelsea Cohen (9-3) is the team's ace, recording a 2.08 ERA in 67.1 innings of work that produced 90 strikeouts, 20 earned runs, 52 hits and 24 walks. A&M and Arkansas have met six times previously, with the Aggies holding a 6-0 advantage. The teams last played in 2007 in College Station.
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.
The Aggies' early success in their first season in the Southeastern Conference has shown in the SEC overall statistics as the team tops league members in several areas through last weekend's games. A&M's 42 home runs are an SEC best, as are team total bases (381) and runners picked off (2). Individually, Morgan leads the SEC in RBI (35) and ties for first in home runs (10) with Lanphear. Dumezich paces her peers with 107.1 innings pitched, 16 wins, three saves, 21 appearances and 17 games started.
VS. THE NCAA
Through games played on March 10, the Aggies lead the nation in several statistical areas. As a team, A&M ranks fifth in ERA (1.35), fourth in win-loss percentage (0.92) and slugging percentage (0.598) and third in home runs per game (1.68). Individually, Dumezich leads the country in victories (16) and saves (3), and is 18th with a 1.11 ERA. Morgan and Lanphear are tied for fourth with 10 home runs each, while Lanphear sits at eighth in slugging percentage (1.000) and 14th in home runs per game (0.45). Morgan ranks 22nd in home runs per game (0.4).
A&M started the season ranked No. 17 in both national polls and is now sitting at No. 5 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 and No. 7 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. The team's No. 5 national ranking came two weeks ago and is the first since February of 2008 when the reigning national runners-up were tabbed preseason fifth. The Aggies' remaining 2013 opponents in the polls are No. 6/4 Alabama, No. 7/6 Tennessee, No. 13/13 LSU and No. 25 Georgia. In addition, Mississippi State is receiving votes.
The Aggies will play 53 regular-season games in 2013, 32 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 NCAA 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 RADIO
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 ONLINE
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 TUBE
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.
A three-game series at No. 6 Tennessee continues the Aggies' SEC slate next weekend. The teams will match up at 5:30 p.m. on Friday before facing off in front of a live national audience on ESPNU, Saturday at 5:30 p.m. A 12:30 p.m. Sunday game will close out the series. All times are Central. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.