COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M softball team will begin its quest for a 12th straight NCAA Tournament appearance Monday as the Aggies take to the field for their first practice of the spring.
The Aggies will practice from 3:15-6:15 p.m. and will work on getting timing and rhythm back in hitting while working on team defense. Practices this spring will be open to the media.
The No. 10 (RPI Final) Aggies ended last season in the NCAA College Station Regional with a 41-18 record, making 2012 the team's seventh 40-win season under Head Coach Jo Evans. A 16-8 Big 12 mark put the Aggies in fourth in the conference in their last season in the league.
A&M enters the Southeastern Conference (SEC) this season with 15 letterwinners and nine starters from last year's squad. 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.
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.
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.
The team will start the hunt for a trip to Oklahoma City at the Stacy Winsberg Tournament in Los Angeles, Feb. 8-10, beginning with games against a pair of NCAA Tournament competitors in Long Beach State, the 2012 Big West Champions, and host school UCLA. The Aggies will also play Cal State Bakersfield and Wright State in L.A. before closing out the tournament with another game vs. the Bruins.
To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.