COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The ninth-seeded Texas A&M softball team is set to face No. 8 seed Alabama in a play-in game in the Aggies’ first ever Southeastern Conference Tournament appearance, Wednesday at 3 p.m. CDT on ESPNU from Lexington, Ky.
Fans can catch all the action this week via AggieAthletics.com, which will feature live audio and live stats. The winner of the A&M-Alabama game will play No. 1 seed Florida in the quarterfinal round at 10 a.m. Thursday. The winner of that game will advance to the semifinal round and play at 2 p.m. Friday. The Championship game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday. All times are Central.
The Aggies battled to a No. 9 seeding in their first year in the SEC, joining No. 8 seed Alabama, No. 7 seed Kentucky and No. 10 seed South Carolina in the play-in round. The top six seeds – No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 3 Missouri, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Arkansas – receive byes in the first round. The winner of the A&M-Alabama game will become the No. 8 seed and will face UF, while the winner of the UK-USC game will become the No. 7 seed and will play No. 2 Tennessee in the quarterfinal round.
Each of this week’s games will be aired on the ESPN networks, with the first three games being on ESPNU and the Championship showing on ESPN. Pam Ward and Michele Smith will cover the Aggies’ first two games, with Holly Rowe reporting from the field. A&M’s final two matchups will be analyzed by Jessica Mendoza, Beth Mowins and Smith, with Rowe again reporting from the sideline.
LAST TIME OUT
The Aggies ended regular season play at home with a series win over Mississippi State. After winning game one and dropping game two, A&M took the series with a 4-2, come-from-behind win on Sunday. In true Senior Day fashion, seniors Meagan May and Mel Dumezich each hit home runs to combine for all four of the Aggies’ RBI while Dumezich fanned 10 in a complete-game effort in the circle.
Two Aggies earned All-SEC honors as utility players this week as Dumezich was named Second-Team All-SEC and Lanphear was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team. The accolades make Dumezich and Lanphear the first A&M softball players to be named All-SEC after the Aggies joined the league in July of 2012.
MORGAN AT ASA/USA WNT TRYOUTS
Junior Nicole Morgan has been invited to the ASA/USA Softball Selection Camp, set for June 9-13. If chosen for the national squad, Morgan will travel to and play in several exhibition and international events this summer, culminating in the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2014 World Championship qualifiers August 5-18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Mel 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. Marking another milestone, Dumezich tossed her 100th career victory, against LSU, on April 12.
The Aggie defense has turned 15 double plays this season, including three last weekend at Ole Miss and seven in the past two weeks combined. Of the 15 two-out plays this season, 11 have been vs. SEC opponents, and all but two were against ranked teams.
GRAND SLAMS GALORE
The Aggies have proven to be a threat at the plate with bases loaded, pounding six grand slams this season. Junior Nicole Morgan leads the way with three of her own. 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. Junior Amber Garza joined Morgan in the grand slam club with a four-RBI homer against Texas State on March 26 before adding her second and the team’s sixth against LSU on April 12. Junior Cassie Tysarczyk created the fifth grand slam for the team when she went yard with bases loaded vs. Colorado State on April 5.
HOME RUN HITTERS
A&M has hit a program-best 88 home runs this season after freshman Cali Lanphear’s first-inning long ball against Ole Miss on April 27 broke the previous single-season record of 81, set in 2011. The Aggies have hit 35 homers in SEC play. Lanphear leads the team and the SEC with 18 long balls, followed by Morgan with 15. May broke the program’s career home run record with 57 and reached the 60-bomb mark at Tennessee. Ten different Aggie hitters have gone yard this season, six of them hitting in the double digits and seven hitting nine or more.
The Aggies’ early success in their first season in the Southeastern Conference has shown in the SEC overall statistics. A&M ranks second in the SEC in overall stats in slugging percentage, home runs and total bases. Lanphear’s .863 slugging percentage is an SEC second-best, and her 18 home runs tie for second in the league. Dumezich’s 26 wins are second most in the SEC, and her 38 appearances rank fourth. Dumezich leads the conference with 31 starts in the circle.
VS. THE NCAA
Through games played on May 5, the Aggies hold a No. 16 RPI ranking and are among the best in the nation in several statistical areas. As a team, A&M is fourth in the country in home runs per game (1.66) and slugging percentage (.568), 23rd in scoring (6.11) and 29th in win-loss percentage (.736). Individually, Dumezich is 10th in victories (26), and Lanphear ranks 14th in home runs per game (0.36), 11th in slugging percentage (.863) and 12th in home runs (18).
A&M started the season ranked No. 17 in both national polls and is now sitting at No. 14 in the NFCA/USA Today poll and 21st in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. The team’s No. 4 national ranking on March 19 was the highest since the end of the 2008 season when the reigning national runners-up were second in the final poll.
After the league championship, the Aggies will learn their fate for the postseason as the NCAA Division I Softball Selection show airs on ESPNU at 10 p.m. Central on May 12. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.