May 25, 2011
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -
For the fourth time in program history the 16th-seeded Texas A&M softball team (44-13) will vie for an NCAA Super Regional title, against No. 1 seed Arizona State (53-6) in Tempe, Ariz. The teams will face off Thursday at 9 p.m. CST on ESPN2 and will rematch Friday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU in the best-of-three series. If necessary, a third game will be played at 10:30 p.m. CST Friday on ESPN2.
The weekend is double-elimination and the winner advances to the Women's College World Series (WCWS), June 2-8, among a field of the top eight teams in the country.
In its tenth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Aggies (44-13) were an at-large selection. A&M will battle in its fourth-ever Super Regional after sweeping the College Station Regional against Sacred Heart, Syracuse and LSU last weekend.
Texas A&M began the postseason at home for the first time since 2008 when the No. 5 seed Aggies' season ended in the championship game of the Women's College World Series (WCWS) against Arizona State. The Aggies are on a ten-game winning streak and will end the season undefeated at home.
The Sun Devils look to advance to their ninth WCWS in program history this season. The team hosted and swept the Tempe Regional against North Dakota State, Long Beach State and San Diego State last weekend. In 2008, ASU played an 11-0 shutout of the Aggies in the Championship game of the WCWS for the program's first-ever national title.
Thursday, May 26
Game 1: No. 16 Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Arizona State - 9 p.m. CST, ESPN2/ESPN3.com
Friday, May 27
Game 2: No. 16 Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Arizona State - 8 p.m. CST, ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Game 3: Rematch if necessary - 10:30 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN3.com
Free live stats will be provided for every game this weekend on AggieAthletics.com and NCAA.com.
Fans can listen to every A&M game this weekend broadcast live on AggieAthletics.com and Sports Radio 1150 AM, making them available worldwide on any iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry or PDA free of charge. Log on to RadioAggieland.com for more information.
Tickets for the Tempe Super Regional are available online here, over the phone at (480) 727-0000 or in person at the Sun Devil Stadium Ticket Office. All-session passes and individual game tickets are for sale.
A&M IN THE POSTSEASON
The Aggies have advanced to the NCAA Championship more times than any Big 12 program. In addition, A&M has won the most NCAA Tournament games of any conference school and holds a 64-45 all-time record. The team has advanced to the super regional four times (2005, 07, 08, 11), the NCAA WCWS seven times (1983, 84, 86, 87, 88, 2007, 08) and won the NCAA national championship twice (1983, 87).
BIG 12 TEAMS IN THE NCAA TOURNEY
The Big 12 Conference placed eight teams in the tournament, the most of any DI conference, for only the second time in league history (2005). The Pacific-10 Conference and the Southeastern Conference also have seven teams in the championship, while Conference USA placed five in the field. No. 16 seed A&M, No. 9 seed Oklahoma, Texas Tech, No. 5 seed Missouri, No. 3 seed Texas, Oklahoma State, No. 11 seed Baylor and Nebraska all received bids. The Aggies, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri host their respective Regional. Conference teams remaining in the tournament are Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and A&M.
A LOOK AT THE BRACKET
After the Super Regional, the remaining teams will advance to the WCWS, an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The championship final will be a best-of-three-series. The WCWS will be conducted June 2-8 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
VERSUS THE SUN DEVILS
The Aggies are 5-13 all-time against ASU. The Sun Devils have won the past 11 meetings with A&M, dating back to 1989. In 2008, the Sun Devils swept the Aggies in the championship series of the WCWS for Arizona State's first-ever softball national title. The last A&M-ASU game was at the Kajikawa Classic in 2010. The No. 5 Sun Devils defeated the Aggies, 10-4.
The top-ranked Sun Devils received their first-ever No. 1 seeding in this season's NCAA Tournament selections after a 50-6 regular season. ASU holds a 35-3 record at home and was 17-4 in the Pac-10, winning its second conference title in program history.
Katelyn Boyd leads the ASU offense with 74 runs on 75 hits for a .444 average. The junior tops the Sun Devil hitters with 14 doubles, 17 home runs, 60 RBI, 140 total bases, 46 walks and a perfect 19-19 stolen base record on the season. Nine of the Sun Devils' regular starters are batting over .300 for a combined team average of .343. Pitching ace Dallas Escobedo (30-3) holds a 1.32 ERA in the circle, fanning 264 batters in 43 appearances. The true freshman has thrown 12 solo shutouts and combines for three in 28 complete games. She has allowed just 39 earned runs in 206 1/3 innings of work this season.
LAST TIME OUT
Texas A&M hosted and swept the College Station Regional last weekend. After run-ruling Sacred Heart, 10-2, and taking Syracuse in game two, 13-5, the Aggies defeated LSU in the championship game, 3-1 on a come-from-behind win with a solo home run by sophomore Rhi Kliesing. Garza had two grand slams on the weekend for 10 RBI. Sophomore Mel Dumezich (30-8) was 3-0 on the weekend.
DUMEZICH AND VILLARREAL ON NFCA ALL-CENTRAL REGION TEAM
Dumezich and redshirt junior Natalie Villarreal were named to the NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-Central Region team Thursday, May 19. Dumezich took first-team honors as a utility pitcher, a second-consecutive All-Central Region honor for the sophomore. Villarreal was selected to the second team. This was also a second-time honor for the lefty second baseman.
FOUR AGGIES RECEIVE ALL-BIG 12 HONORS
Villarreal, Dumezich and senior Rhi Kliesing was selected to the second team. Villarreal was also named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career. Kliesing is a three-time All-Big 12 selection, while Villarreal and Dumezich have each been chosen twice. Spittler is a first-time honoree.
ALL-COLLEGE STATION REGIONAL TEAM
Dumezich, May, Garza and Kliesing were named to the All-College Station Regional Team. The group of nine was voted on by participating schools' sports information directors and the media.
GRAND SLAM GARZA
Garza, a true freshman, has hit three grand slams this season. The Missouri City, Texas, native hit two four-RBI bombs during the College Station Regional, against Sacred Heart and Syracuse. Garza earned 10 RBI on the Regional.
Five freshmen have started in games for the Aggies this season, while three are regulars in the lineup. Amber Garza has started in all but three games at third base, recording 45 hits as an Aggie including 10 doubles, a triple and nine home runs, three of them grand slams, for 47 RBI and 29 runs. Cassie Tysarczyk is a regular in right field who adds five doubles and seven bombs to A&M's tally while stealing five bases in as many attempts. Nicole Morgan has started in 43 games, most of them behind the plate. She owns 24 RBI on 25 hits, three of them doubles and eight of them homers.
HOME RUNS GALORE
Texas A&M has blasted 78 home runs this season for a new program record, including eight grand slams, in 57 games. The team sits at fifth in the nation in the most recent NCAA statistical rankings (as of May 22) in home runs per game with a 1.37 average. Kliesing is 10th in the nation with 18 home runs and is 19th in home runs per game, individually. Of A&M's 19 players, 12 have gone yard in 2011. Undefeated at home, the Aggies have cleared their own fence 49 times, including three times in the one-run victory over No. 15 Baylor, once against No. 12 Nebraska and No. 3 Texas and five times in the sweep of No. 16 OSU. The team also had a solo bomb against top-ranked Arizona early in the season.
The Aggies are ranked No. 14 overall in the most recent RPI standings (as of May 17) and sit in the top 25 in four categories (through games May 22) - home runs per game (5), win-loss percentage (15), scoring (24) and slugging percentage (18). Individually, Kliesing sits at 19th in home runs per game, 33rd in slugging percentage and 10th in home runs. Dumezich ranks 10th in the nation in both victories and shutouts, and is 28th in hits allowed per seven innings. May is 18th in sacrifice flies, 21st in walks and 31st in RBI per game.
LEADING THE WAY
Kliesing leads the Aggie hitters with a .355 average. The senior is the only A&M player to start in all 57 of the team's games this season. She leads the team in home runs (18), RBI (53), total bases (117) walks (37) and hit-by-pitches (11). Villarreal is a close second with a .348 average from the plate. The second baseman leads the Aggies with 47 runs, 57 hits, and 14 doubles. From the circle, Dumezich (30-8) holds a 1.83 ERA in 233 2/3 innings. The right-handed pitcher owns 12 solo shutouts in 32 complete games and has fanned 255 batters while allowing only 61 earned runs on the season.
AGGIES IN THE POLLS
With no new polls this week, Texas A&M remains at No. 17 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and No. 18 in the USA Today/NFCA poll. The Aggies have been a constant in both polls all season, starting 2011 at No. 19 and currently holding a season best.
Evans recently earned her 900th win as a head coach. The win came in front of a home crowd against Sacred Heart in the College Station Regional. Evans holds a 902-494-2 record in 26 seasons as one of the winningest active Division I softball coaches.
Texas A&M has run-ruled 16 opponents this season with the NCAA's eight-runs-after-five-innings rule, while never taking a loss in a shortened contest themselves. Eight of the run-rules were shutouts.
LONGEST WINNING STREAK
The Aggies are currently on a 10-game winning streak, dating back to April 30 at Kansas. The team had a record-breaking season at home, going undefeated in 25 games. A&M is on a 27-game home streak overall, starting last season.
LONGEST HITTING STREAK
Villarreal holds the longest hitting streak of the season in which she held a .417 average over 16 games and Kliesing's longest was a 13-game streak in which she hit .531. May went on a nine-game hitting streak Feb. 16-24 and hit .385 over the stretch. Spittler and Walker each had a hit in eight consecutive games, posting a .565 and .458 average, respectively.
PERFECTION AT THE PLATE
Dumezich, Garza, Kliesing, Spittler and Villarreal all had perfect performances at the dish this season. Dumezich was 3-for-3 with a triple, a double and an RBI against Long Island, and Garza went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored vs. Florida A&M. Kliesing was 3-for-3, scoring three runs on three hits for three RBI against Sam Houston State while Spittler did the same at Kansas. Villarreal had two 3-for-3 games, scoring three runs at Stephen F. Austin and one against UT-Arlington.
BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
A&M was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Aggies received 54 points and finished behind preseason favorite Oklahoma (79), Missouri (71) and Texas (69). A&M was selected as the frontrunner for three consecutive years, from 2006-08, and was picked sixth last season. Oklahoma State placed fifth with 50 points, followed by Baylor (40), Texas Tech (33), Nebraska (26), Iowa State (15) and Kansas (13).