COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 9 Texas A&M softball team (27-5, 4-4 SEC) is set to host fourth-ranked and reigning National Champion Alabama (30-4, 6-3 SEC) this weekend in a three-game Southeastern Conference (SEC) series at the Aggie Softball Complex. Game one is slated for a 7 p.m. Friday first pitch. Game two will be Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by game three Sunday at noon. All times are Central.
Fans wanting to keep up with the action this weekend should tune in to the live radio broadcasts. Friday and Sunday’s games are available locally on Sports Radio 1150 AM, and every game this weekend can be heard on 95.1-3 The Zone HD or online at RadioAggieland.com and AggieAthletics.com.
Tickets for Saturday’s contest are sold out and Friday and Sunday’s games are reaching capacity. To purchase tickets in advance of the games, fans should call 1-888-99-AGGIE OR 979-845-2311, go online to Tickets.12thManFoundation.com, or purchase tickets in person at The Zone at Kyle Field ticket office.
If the @AggieSoftball Twitter feed and the Aggie Softball Facebook page get 8,000 combined follows and likes, then the first 200 Texas A&M students will receive FREE admission to Friday’s game against the Crimson Tide. On Saturday, the Aggies’ youngest fans can enjoy an Easter egg hunt after the game. Kids 8th-grade and younger should head to the A&M soccer field, Ellis Field, 20 minutes after the conclusion of Saturday’s game to participate in the hunt.
LAST TIME OUT
Junior Amber Garza pounded two home runs, including a grand slam, for six RBI as the Aggies run-ruled Texas State, 9-1 at home in five innings. The big win was exactly what the doctor ordered after a tough weekend at then-No. 8 Tennessee.
The Crimson Tide are coming off of a historical season that ended with Alabama winning the SEC’s first-ever National Championship. Alabama is 30-4 this season with a 6-3 mark in conference action. The Crimson Tide have four players hitting above .400, led by Haylie McCleney with a .491 average, 41 runs, 53 hits, nine doubles, four triples, three home runs, 24 RBI and 13 walks. The rookie has won SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice this season. Sophomore Leslie Jury (10-2) and junior Jackie Traina (14-2) have split time in the circle, recording 1.69 and 1.72 ERAs, respectively. Traina has tossed 109.2 innings and has fanned 130 batters while giving up 27 earned runs.
A&M and Alabama have met just three times in history, and the Crimson Tide hold a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series. The teams last met in a pair of games in the 2005 NCAA College Station Super Regional that ended the Aggies’ run in the postseason.
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. Junior Amber Garza joined Morgan in the grand slam club with a four-RBI homer against Texas State on March 26.
HOME RUN HITTERS
A&M has hit 55 home runs this season, including 15 in SEC play. Morgan’s 13 long balls are a team best, followed by freshman Cali Lanphear’s 11. Senior Meagan May broke the program’s career home run record with 57 and reached the 60-bomb mark at Tennessee.
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 ranks second in the SEC in overall stats in slugging percentage (.592), home runs (53), total bases (468), and saves (4). Morgan paces the league with 13 home runs and ranks third with 81 total bases. Dumezich has a league-best 134.2 innings pitched, 18 wins, 26 appearances and 21 games started.
VS. THE NCAA
Through games played on March 24, the Aggies hold a No. 12 RPI ranking and are among the best in the nation in several statistical areas. As a team, A&M is second in the country in home runs per game (1.71), third in slugging percentage (.592), 22nd in scoring (6.39) and 26th in batting average (.319). Individually, Dumezich is third in the country in victories (18), ninth in saves (3.0) and eighth in shutouts (6.0). Morgan ranks 14th in home runs per game (.42), ninth in RBI per game (1.32), 20th in slugging percentage (.88), 4th in home runs (13) and 12th in sacrifice flies (3). Lanphear ranks 16th in home runs (11), 22nd in slugging percentage (.863) and 20th in home runs per game (.39).
A&M started the season ranked No. 17 in both national polls and is now sitting at No. 9 in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 and the NFCA/USA Today poll. 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. The Aggies’ remaining 2013 opponents in the polls are No. 4/7 Alabama, No. 12/13 LSU and No. 22/23 Georgia.
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 will host Colorado State in a three-game non-conference series next weekend. Game one is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, followed by game two at 4 p.m. Saturday and the series finale Sunday at noon. All times are Central. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.