COLLEGE STATION, Texas - With a brand new No. 5 national ranking, the Texas A&M softball team (17-0) hosts Sam Houston State (7-9) in a single midweek game, Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The game between the Aggies and Bearkats can be heard for free worldwide via any smartphone, HD radio or online through 95.1-3 The Zone HD. The broadcast can be found at RadioAggieland.com and AggieAthletics.com. Those with a subscription to 12th Man TV can also watch live footage of the action at AggieAthletics.com.
LAST TIME OUT
The Aggies are in the midst of a program-best 17-0 start after an outstanding week at home that featured four shutout wins, and two no-hitters by senior Mel Dumezich, who was named the USA Softball National Player of the Week for her efforts. The team averaged .338 at the plate with 44 runs, 53 hits, 16 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 39 RBI. The pitching duo of Dumezich and sophomore Lauren Ainsley tossed 39 strikeouts combined through 44 innings of work, allowing just 24 hits and three earned runs in seven games for a 0.48 ERA on the week. Senior Meagan May broke the program's career home run record during the A&M-Purdue game Friday, slugging her 57th long ball to break the title originally held by All-American Megan Gibson. Gibson, now the assistant coach at UTSA, was in town for the tournament and in the stands as her record was bested.
The "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" promotion will be in effect during Wednesday's matchup with Sam Houston State. Up to four children, ages 12 and under, will be admitted free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
SCOUTING SAM HOUSTON STATE
The Bearkats are 7-9 this season, and are undefeated at 3-0 on the road. The 2012 Southland Conference Runners-Up are led by Tori Benavidez, who commands a .366 average at the plate, scoring eight runs on 15 hits and adding four RBI. Hillary Adams (.286) is the team's power hitter, plating 16 runs and scoring seven of her own on four home runs and a double. The Bearkats are paced by Shelby Lancaster (5-3) in the circle as she has tossed 20 strikeouts in 56.2 innings, giving up 19 earned runs on 19 walks and 63 hits for a 2.35 ERA. A&M and Sam Houston State most recently met on Feb. 13 in Huntsville, culminating in an 8-0 run-rule victory for the Aggies. A&M owns an 88-13 all-time advantage over the Bearkats.
Sam Houston State Head Coach Bob Brock spent 15 years with the Aggies, winning a trio of National Championships with the Maroon and White. The Bearkats' skipper was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. Bearkat Assistant Coach Adrian Gregory graced the Aggie softball roster from 2001-05, leading the team as a captain and earning ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-Region and Academic All-Big 12 honors. The shortstop was also named All-Big 12 as a junior in 2004.
The Aggies' early success in their first season in the Southeastern Conference has shown in the SEC rankings as the team tops league members in several areas through last weekend's games. A&M's 0.78 ERA is an SEC best, as are team slugging percentage (.640), doubles (31), home runs (28), total bases (268), wins (17) and saves (3). Individually, junior Nicole Morgan leads the SEC in RBI (21) and ties for first in home runs (7) with freshman Cali Lanphear. Dumezich paces her peers with 65.0 innings pitched, 75 batters struck out, 11 wins, two saves, 13 appearances and 11 games started. May has used her accuracy from behind the plate to lead the SEC in fielding percentage (1.000), chances (127) and to rank second in putouts (116).
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. 9 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. The team's No. 5 national ranking 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. 2/1 Alabama, No. 6/6 Missouri, No. 9/7 Tennessee, No. 11/11 LSU, No. 13/13 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 14/14 Michigan, No. 17/19 Kentucky and No. 24/23 Georgia. In addition, Illinois 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.
The Aggies will travel to Orlando, Fla., this weekend to play in the Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. A&M will face No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 14 Michigan, College of Charleston, Illinois State and Penn State. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.