COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 11 Texas A&M softball team begins its hunt for the program’s fourth national championship Friday when the Aggies travel to Santa Barbara, Calif., to play in UC Santa Barbara’s Gaucho Classic I at Campus Diamond.
Texas A&M will start the tournament with a 2 p.m. Friday game against Dayton, followed by a 4 p.m. game vs. the host Gauchos. The Aggies play at 1 p.m., vs. Bakersfield, and 3 p.m., vs. UCSB, on Saturday before ending the weekend with an 11 a.m. Sunday game against Dayton. All times are Central.
Fans unable to attend the weekend’s contests can listen to each game live on AggieAthletics.com or RadioAggieland.com. Saturday’s games will also be available in Bryan-College Station on Sports Radio 1150 AM. Each game this season can be heard worldwide on HD radio or smartphone via 95.1-3 The Zone HD. Download the RadioAggieland app to listen to the games, or tune in online.
Instantaneous live mobile stats can be seen from any mobile device, as well as any computer at TAMUstats.com. Live stats will also be available for every game of the 2014 season through AggieAthletics.com. Click on the live stats link on the Aggie softball schedule page any time after first pitch to follow the action.
LAST AT BAT
The Aggies ended the 2013 season with a 42-18 record (10-13 SEC) at the NCAA Super Regional level for the fifth time in program history, falling to eventual National Champion Oklahoma in Norman, after hosting and winning the College Station Regional as the NCAA Tournament’s No. 16 seed.
Texas A&M also picked up its eighth 40-win season with Evans at the helm in 2013, and began the season with the program’s best start at 19-0. The Aggies hit a national best 103 home runs on the year, including the 100th and 101st in the final game of the College Station Regional to run-rule Baylor and advance to Super Region. Then-freshman Lanphear was named to the NFCA All-America second team after hitting 21 home runs in her rookie campaign.
Ending their careers at Texas A&M in 2013 were seniors Mel Dumezich, Meagan May and Sydney Shannon. Dumezich – a three-time All-American pitcher – went on to play pro ball for the Chicago Bandits of the NPF and is now a student assistant coach with the Aggies. May is a 2010 All-American who still holds the Texas A&M and Big 12 records for home runs in a season with 24, as well as the A&M career records for home runs (68) and RBI (188). Shannon, who graduated in May of 2013, was a four-year outfielder for the Aggies.
The Dayton Flyers return six positional starters and three starting pitchers from last season’s 22-24 squad, which featured a 12-9 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Flyers are led offensively by seniors Kasi Vasquez and Dana Trotta. Vasquez led the team with a .333 average and tied for the team lead with eight home runs. Trotta hit .286 last season while slugging eight homers and driving in 28 runs. Dayton returns a pitching staff with over 300 innings of experience from the 2013 season. Kayla English led the team in wins, going 9-11, and strikeouts, fanning 174 opponents last season with eight complete games. Emily Froment led the Flyers with a 2.50 ERA over 81.1 innings, earning an 8-5 record while striking out 54.
SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA
The Gauchos return seven starters and 14 letterwinners from last year’s 31-24 squad that tied for fourth in the Big West Conference with a 12-12 mark. Overall the Gauchos are led by junior Shelby Wisdom who returns a 17-16 record in the circle with a 3.19 ERA over 193.1 innings. Wisdom also contributed to her cause, hitting .299 with eight homers and 41 RBI. Sophomore outfielder Arianna Palomares returns after hitting .307 with 10 doubles, one home run and 12 RBI during her freshman campaign.
SCOUTING CSU BAKERSFIELD
Bakersfield returns eight starters from last season’s 15-34 squad, which went 6-14 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. Karissa Veiga has the top returning batting average for the team after hitting .326 last season with 18 runs and seven RBI. Senior infielder Shay Fryer also returns after leading the team with 43 hits, including 10 doubles, two homers and 21 RBI. Junior pitcher Kelsie Monroe led the team in the circle last season, going 11-18 with a 3.76 ERA over 186.1 innings. Monroe struck out 113 while walking only 51 and holding hitters to a .281 average. Sophomore pitcher Amber Mills also returns after throwing 109.1 innings, good for a 4-15 record and a 3.97 ERA.
VS. THE FIELD
The Aggies and Flyers have met only two times in history, in a 1999 doubleheader in College Station. Texas A&M holds a 2-0 advantage over Dayton. The Aggies and UCSB are 1-1 all time, dating back to meetings in 1995 and 1999. Texas A&M and CSU Bakersfield first met last season at UCLA, where the Aggies took a 7-1 victory.
THE 2014 AGGIES
In its second season in the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M welcomes six newcomers to the 2014 squad with addition of sophomore transfer Katie Marks (Katy), and freshmen Abby Donnell (Wichita Falls), Reagan Boenker (Bryan), April Ryan (Keller), Suzanne White (Richmond) and Celena Massey (Bulverde). Returning to action are five sophomores, four juniors, including redshirt transfer Rachel Fox, and an invaluable eight-player senior class.
Sophomore Cali Lanphear – who led the Aggies’ home run game in 2013 – was named an NFCA All-American and Freshman All-SEC, and senior Nicole Morgan joined her on the NFCA All-South Region first team. Senior Emily Albus earned Hammer Strength All-American Athlete honors at the end of last season, and senior Allison Garrett represented the team on the SEC Softball Community Service Team.
Texas A&M could field nearly a full starting lineup from the senior class alone, as the Aggie Softball Class of 2014 has eight members that account for 23 years of combined experience in maroon and white.
TRANSFER OF POWER
The Aggies inherit two transfer student-athletes from major Division I programs for the 2014 season. Right-handed pitchers Rachel Fox and Katie Marks join the team from Texas and South Carolina, respectively. Fox (Sugar Land) entered the clubhouse before the 2013 season but was forced to sit out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. The former Longhorn standout collected 32 wins in two years at Texas. Marks spent her rookie season in the circle for the Gamecocks, making 28 appearances for an 8-8 record. She will see playing time in 2014 after receiving a hardship waiver from the NCAA.
GOING BACK TO CALI
Sophomore Cali Lanphear is already asserting her dominance for the 2014 season. She was named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List in January, and added Preseason All-SEC honors to her résumé this month. The 2013 NFCA Second-Team All-American hit 21 home runs during her rookie campaign.
RANKING THE AGGIES
Texas A&M starts the 2014 season with a No. 11 preseason ranking in both the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll. The Aggies’ 2014 opponents in the top 25 are No. 1/1 Tennessee, No. 3/4 Florida, No. 9/9 Nebraska, No. 14/12 Kentucky, No. 17/14 Missouri, No. 21/23 Georgia and No. 24/24 California. In addition, Arizona, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Tulsa, Auburn, Oregon State and Houston are receiving votes.
SEC PRESEASON POLL
The Southeastern Conference coaches predicted a No. 7 finish for the Aggies in 2014, finishing behind No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Kentucky and No. 6 Missouri. Rounding out the preseason poll are No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 10 Auburn, No. 11 South Carolina, No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 13 Ole Miss. Eight of the 13 SEC softball teams appeared among the nation’s top-25 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll. Points for the SEC poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 basis. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. The SEC did away with East-West divisions after the 2012-13 season in all sports but baseball and football.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Including Lanphear’s 21 long balls, the Aggies led the nation with 103 home runs in 2013, besting the program’s original record of 81 set in 2011. Texas A&M was the only team to break 100 in 2013, and the Aggies also led the nation in home runs per game with a 1.72 average. As a special treat, the 100th bomb was hit by then-junior Amber Garza during the College Station Regional final against Baylor. The Aggies’ 101st homer of the season, by Lanphear, sealed the run-rule of the Bears to send Texas A&M to the NCAA Super Regional. Lanphear led a group of seven Aggies who hit double-digit home runs in 2013.
With four tournaments and two nonconference midweek games at the beginning of the season, the Aggies will play over one third of their regular-season schedule in the month of February. Of the 55 scheduled games in 2014, 19 of them will take place during the first three weeks of the season.
FOLLOW THE AGGIES
Get the latest news, updates and action from Aggie Softball by following the team’s official Twitter account @AggieSoftball. Fans on Facebook can also stay connected by liking the Aggie Softball page (facebook.com/TAMUSoftball).
Aggie Softball fans worldwide can listen to each game of the 2014 season live on AggieAthletics.com. All contests are provided by The Zone and can be heard on smartphones and HD radios via 95.1-3 The Zone HD on the Radio Aggieland app. Select games are also available in the Bryan-College Station area on Sports Radio 1150 AM. Every game will be live online at RadioAggieland.com and AggieAthletics.com.
MOBILE LIVE STATS
Fans who wish to follow the action of each game this season can also receive free, instantaneous live stats on any computer or smartphone by visiting TAMUstats.com. Users can access current live stats and stats from past games.
WATCH THE AGGIES ONLINE
For the 11th 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.
AGGIE SOFTBALL ON TV
The Aggies will play at least five games on national TV this season, beginning with the Sunday, April 6 game at Kentucky on a Fox Sports Net station at noon CT. Of the Aggies’ five televised contests, four will be played at the Aggie Softball Complex. The Aggies will host 2013 national runner-up and top-ranked Tennessee on ESPNU on Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m. CT and Sunday, April 13 at noon CT. A week later the Aggies and No. 3 Florida will face off on ESPNU – Friday, April 18 at 7 p.m. CT and Saturday, April 19 at 5 p.m. CT.
In addition to the five regular-season games, the entire SEC tournament, including both play-in games, will be broadcast on ESPN networks. The SEC Tournament is set for May 7-10 in Columbia, S.C.
All 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. Individual game tickets for softball will go on sale in January and are $10 for reserved (sections 4-8) and $8 for Adult 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. Texas A&M students with no all-sports option may purchase a student walkup ticket for $5. 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.
Parking for all Aggie softball games is available in Lot 100 at both Reed Arena and Olsen Field. For games that do not conflict with baseball, the entry gate on the Reed Arena side of the stadium will not be opened; fans are encouraged to park at Olsen Field for those games to allow easy access to the stadium entrance. 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.
The Aggies return to the Lone Star State for a single midweek game at Sam Houston State on Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT, before hosting Oregon State, McNeese State and Tulsa in the Aggie Classic next weekend. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.