COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The fourth-ranked Texas A&M softball team (26-2, 4-1 SEC) hits the road again this weekend for its third three-game Southeastern Conference series, at No. 8 Tennessee (24-6, 3-3 SEC). The Aggies and Lady Volunteers will play the series opener at 5:30 p.m. Friday and will follow with game two at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU. The series finale is slated for a 12:30 p.m. first pitch Sunday. 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 worldwide on 95.1-3 The Zone HD via smartphone or online at RadioAggieland.com and AggieAthletics.com.
SATURDAY TV INFO
Saturday’s game will be featured on ESPNU as a doubleheader with Aggie baseball’s 7:30 p.m. CDT game at Ole Miss. Calling the softball pitch-by-pitch will be Mark Neely. Neely will be joined by color commentator Jessica Mendoza in the broadcast booth. Official first pitch is slated for 5:34 p.m. CDT.
LAST TIME OUT
A&M earned its first-ever SEC series sweep, downing Arkansas in a trio of games at the Aggie Softball Complex. The Aggies struggled in game one and entered the seventh inning tied 1-1 before a single by freshman Cali Lanphear and an error by the Razorbacks plated pinch runner Allison Garrett for the unearned walk-off run. The Aggies found their rhythm in game two, answering a solo first-inning run by the Razorbacks with five of their own in the bottom of the inning and working to a 7-3 victory. Game three culminated in a five-inning run-rule victory for A&M as the Aggies outplayed the Razorbacks, 9-1. Junior Nicole Morgan led the Aggies in the finale, with back-to-back home runs.
The Lady Vols are 24-6 this season and 3-3 in SEC play, and are coming off of a big weekend at then-No. 3 Florida. Tennessee dropped game one to the Gators, 5-6 in extra innings, before taking a convincing eight-inning, 3-1 victory in game two. Another extra-inning effort ended in a Florida victory in the series finale, but the Lady Vols’ win in game two was the first win for Tennessee in Gainesville in eight games and was just the sixth victory for UT at Florida’s field. Following the outstanding effort against the Gators, senior Lauren Gibson was named SEC Co-Player of the week. Gibson leads the Lady Vols with a .422 average at the plate and 31 runs on 35 hits, including five doubles, a triple and six home runs for 24 RBI. Tennessee has depth in the circle, with four pitchers taking record for four-or-more games. Sisters Ellen (8-1) and Ivy (9-3) Renfroe have made UT pitching a family affair, owning 1.32 and 1.46 ERAs, respectively. Ellen’s 94 strikeouts are a team best, followed by 73 from younger sister Ivy.
The Aggies and Lady Vols have met just twice in history, spread out over the span of 10 years. A&M has never scored a run against Tennessee, losing 0-5 in 1997 and 0-2 in 2007.
The Aggies don’t let the scoreboard dictate how they play, proving to be a force with two outs against them. Last weekend, 16 of A&M’s 18 runs vs. the Razorbacks came with two outs, including all of the Aggies’ runs on Saturday and Sunday. This season, the Aggies have batted in 78 runs with two outs, as opposed to just 17 two-out runs scored by their opponents.
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.
GRAND SLAMS GALORE
Morgan has proven to be a threat at the plate with bases loaded, pounding three grand slams this season. Morgan’s first four-RBI homer came early in the season as she topped the fence with three on base against Cal State Bakersfield on Feb. 9 for her second long ball of the game. On Feb. 17, Morgan plated four against Stephen F. Austin before clearing the bags at Missouri on March 9.
HOME RUN HITTERS
A&M is on track to nearly double its home runs from the 2012 season. Through 28 games, the Aggies have topped the fence 47 times. Through 28 games in 2012 A&M had hit just 24 bombs. Seven different players have gone yard at least three times in 2013, and Morgan (12) and Lanphear (11) are already in double digits.
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 1.40 combined ERA is an SEC best, as are home runs (47) and runners picked off (2). Individually, Morgan leads the SEC in total bases (71), runners picked off (2) and home runs (12), followed by Lanphear (11) in second. Morgan’s 38 RBI rank second among her peers. Dumezich paces the conference with 118.1 innings pitched, 18 wins, three saves, 23 appearances and 19 games started.
VS. THE NCAA
Through games played on March 17, the Aggies lead the nation in several statistical areas. As a team, A&M is leading the country in home runs per game (1.68), ranks sixth in ERA (1.40), third in win-loss percentage (0.93) and slugging percentage (0.599), 20th in batting average (.325), 22nd in scoring (6.5) and 27th in doubles per game (1.57). Individually, Dumezich is second in the country in victories (19) and seventh in saves (3), and is 16th with a 1.12 ERA. Morgan (4th) and Lanphear (8th) are both among the top 10 in home runs and rank No. 15 and 12, respectively in home runs per game. Morgan’s 1.36 RBI per game is 10th in the nation and Lanphear’s .984 slugging percentage comes in fourth.
A&M started the season ranked No. 17 in both national polls and is now sitting at No. 4 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 and No. 5 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. 8/8 Tennessee, No. 12/13 LSU and No. 24/23 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.
The Aggies will host reigning national champion Alabama in a three-game slate next weekend. The Saturday game of that series has already been sold out, and the Friday and Sunday games are closing in on a full house. As a special promotion for that banner series, the first 200 students through the gate on Friday will get in FREE if the Aggie Softball Facebook page and @AggieSoftball Twitter feed get 8,000 likes and follows combined.
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 will host a 6:30 p.m. Tuesday game against Texas State before jumping into a three-game series with reigning National Champion Alabama. The Aggies and Crimson Tide will play at 7:00 p.m. on March 29, 4 p.m. on March 30 and 12 p.m. on March 31. All times are Central. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.