COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Fresh off of an unbeaten opening weekend, the No. 8 Texas A&M softball team (5-0) travels to Huntsville, Texas, for a 5 p.m. CT Wednesday game at Sam Houston State (0-0). The midweek matchup will be the Bearkats’ first game of 2014.
Fans unable to attend the game can listen to it live on AggieAthletics.com or RadioAggieland.com. 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 outscored opponents 48-14 at UC Santa Barbara’s Gaucho Classic I last weekend for a perfect start to the season. Senior Nicole Morgan led the team’s offensive effort with 14 RBI and 3 home runs – including two grand slams vs. Bakersfield. Freshman April Ryan had a big debut, totaling 12 RBI and eight runs on eight hits, including a team-best four doubles to match Morgan’s .471 average.
SCOUTING SAM HOUSTON STATE
The Bearkats return five positional starters and three pitchers from last season’s 34-27 team that finished as the runner-up in the Southland Conference and in the Southland Conference Tournament. Sophomore Tiffany Castillo returns to the lineup after hitting .380 last season with nine home runs, 49 RBI and 29 runs scored. Junior infielder Hillary Adams is the leading returner in hits (62), home runs (13), RBI (60) and total bases (106). Senior Shelby Lancaster will likely be in the circle for the Bearkats after posting a 15-8 record in 2013 with a 2.98 ERA. The right hander struck out 77 and yielded a .289 average over 176.1 innings last season.
The Aggies are 89-13 all-time against the Bearkats. The teams met twice last season, with Texas A&M sweeping the split-sight series.
Sam Houston State Head Coach Bob Brock was the Aggies’ skipper from 1982-1996, pushing the team to three national championships (1982, ’83, ’87) and two national runner-up finishes (1984, ’86). Brock hired former Texas A&M team captain Adrian Gregory as an assistant coach in 2010. Gregory helped the Aggies to a Big 12 Championship and earned All-Conference honors as a junior before graduating from Texas A&M in 2006.
Morgan hit two grand slams – the fourth and fifth of her career – and a two-run home run against Bakersfield to pull the Aggies out of a close, back-and-forth battle. The senior had 10 RBI on the game, with a walk and four runs scored. She was one RBI short of tying the NCAA record for a single game, and was one short of the tying the single-game home run record. Morgan joins Aggie student assistant coach Mel Dumezich on the eight-person list of NCAA Division I players who have hit two grand slams in a single game.
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 national polls and are currently ranked No. 8 in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll and No. 11 the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll. The Aggies’ remaining 2014 opponents in the top 25 are No. 1/2 Tennessee, No. 2/1 Florida, No. 9/8 Nebraska, No. 7/9 Kentucky, No. 14/18 Missouri, No. 19/17 Georgia, No. 23/25 California and No. 24/22 Arizona. In addition, Tulsa, Auburn, Arkansas, San Diego State, Wisconsin 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. Texas A&M returns players responsible for 72 percent of the team’s 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 host Oregon State, McNeese State and Tulsa in the Aggie Classic this weekend. The action begins at 10 a.m. Friday with a pair of neutral games before Texas A&M takes to the diamond for a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.