COLLEGE STATION, Texas - With an unblemished record, the No. 5 Texas A&M softball team (18-0) starts the weekend at the Citrus Classic with games against a pair of top-15 teams Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Aggies will take on No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette (13-2) on a worldwide ESPN3 broadcast at 2:30 p.m. CST before battling with 14th-ranked Michigan (10-3) at 4:45 p.m. CST. Saturday's schedule features matchups with Illinois State (8-8) at 11:15 a.m. and College of Charleston (7-3) at 1:30 p.m. The team will round out the tournament with an 8 a.m. Sunday game against Penn State (3-4).
The A&M-ULL game Friday can be seen worldwide on ESPN3 via ESPN.go.com. Fans with a WatchESPN app can log on using their TV subscription username and password to follow the pitch-by-pitch. To go directly to the game, click here or go to AggieAthletics.com for the link.
LAST TIME OUT
The Aggies hosted Sam Houston State in a single game Wednesday night, defeating the Bearkats 8-3. Junior Nicole Morgan had a two-RBI double and junior Cassie Tysarczyk contributed a three-run home run. Dumezich took the win from the circle, throwing six strikeouts and handing out two walks and a hit through 4.0 innings.
NATIONAL PLAYER OF
Senior Mel Dumezich enters the tournament as the ASA/USA Softball National Player of the Week and the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after going 4-0 in the circle last week with two no-hitters and a 0.00 ERA. The Whiting, Ind., native also shined from the plate, hitting .500 through seven games.
The Ragin' Cajuns are 13-2 this season with four players hitting above .390. Brianna Cherry (.429) leads the way and has scored 20 runs on 18 hits, including two doubles, a triple and six home runs. Sarah Draheim (.419) also has 18 hits on the season, while Shellie Landry (.404) leads her teammates with 26 RBI. Jordan Wallace is ULL's main pitcher of record and owns a 1.32 ERA in 2013. She has tossed 53.0 innings through seven complete games and nine appearances, giving up 10 earned runs and striking out 74. The Aggies and Ragin' Cajuns have met 25 times in history, with ULL holding a 13-12 advantage in the series.
The Wolverines are 10-13 entering the Citrus Classic. Caitlin Blanchard is pacing the team from the plate with a .400 average. Sara Driesenga, however, has done the most damage offensively with 16 RBI, five runs scored and 11 hits, including a double and two home runs. Driesenga (9-2) has also worked opponents in the circle, tallying a 0.88 ERA in 13 appearances and giving up nine earned runs while striking out 63. A&M and Michigan have played six games in the past, each winning three in the all-time history between the teams.
SCOUTING COLLEGE OF
The 7-3 Cougars are being led offensively by Chandler Frisbie. Frisbie is hitting .417 this season and has four runs, 10 hits, three doubles, C-of-C's lone home run and seven RBI. On the rubber, Hope Klicker (4-2, 2.24 ERA) and Stephanie Saylors (3-0, 2.40 ERA) have been splitting time. Klicker has allowed 11 earned runs and has thrown 39 strikeouts, while Saylor has 14 Ks and has given up eight earned runs. The Aggies and Cougars have never met on the softball diamond.
The Redbirds are 8-8 on the year and have yet to play a game at home. Nichelle Harrison is the team's only hitter to top .300 and leads Illinois State with 16 hits. Jhavon Hamilton is batting .289 and has a team-best 13 runs, 16 walks and three stolen bases. Pitcher Taylor Baxter (4-2) owns a 2.88 ERA through nine appearances, allowing 17 earned runs and striking out 17 batters. A&M and Illinois State have met 28 times in history. The Aggies hold a 21-7 advantage in the all-time series.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions have played just seven games this season and own a 3-4 record on the diamond. Cassidy Bell is hitting an impressive .591 with 13 hits, including two doubles and five home runs, and has scored eight runs while plating 15. In the circle, Macy Jones (3-1) has a 4.59 ERA after allowing 14 earned runs on 23 hits and seven walks. A&M has a 10-3-1 all-time record in its historical series with the Nittany Lions.
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.
A&M makes its SEC debut at former Big 12 foe Missouri next weekend. The Aggies and Tigers will face off at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. All times are Central. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.