COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The second-ranked Texas A&M softball team continues its quest for a second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Women’s College World Series and looks to improve on its 12-game winning streak as it heads to Columbus, Ga. this weekend to participate in the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Fans can listen to this weekend’s games on aggieathletics.com free of charge through Aggies All-Access. A&M’s games against Georgia Tech and North Carolina State will be broadcast live on 1150 AM The Zone with play-by-play from Louie Belina and color commentary from Stephen Grove.
“We have the opportunity to play some more great teams this weekend,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “The NFCA Leadoff Classic is fun to play in because it allows us to play some teams we don’t see very often. Our team is starting to gel and we are continuing to get better. It should be another fun tournament.”
Over the course of the three-day tournament, the Aggies will play five games. A&M opens tournament play Friday against No. 19 DePaul at 3 p.m. and Georgia Tech at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Ags will take on Florida State at 12:30 p.m. and UMass at 3 p.m. A&M concludes tournament play against North Carolina State on Sunday at 9 a.m.
DePaul (7-4) is coming off a week hiatus after going 3-2 at the Crowne Plaza Classic held at the Cougar Softball Stadium Feb. 15-17 in Houston. The Blue Demons posted wins over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-0, 4-3) and Army (6-2), while suffering a pair of losses to then No. 23 Houston (5-0, 1-0).
Friday’s game marks just the second meeting between the Aggies and Blue Demons. DePaul won the first game 10-5 at the Kia Classic in Fullerton, Calif. on Mar. 19, 2004.
The Blue Demons joined the Aggies in Oklahoma City, Okla. as one of eight NCAA Women’s College World Series participants in 2007. DePaul went 1-2, dropping their opening game at the WCWS to Washington before defeating Arizona State and then falling to eventual national champion Arizona to end their season.
Georgia Tech dropped to 5-8 on the season after going 1-3 at the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tampa, Fla. last weekend. The Yellow Jackets posted shutouts across the board with three being losses to South Carolina, Hofstra, and South Florida, 1-0, 4-0 and 1-0 respectively and a single game win over Wright State 5-0.
Friday’s game will serve as the first meeting between Texas A&M and Georgia Tech.
Florida State enters the weekend with a 9-7 record after splitting a doubleheader Wednesday against Troy. The Seminoles dropped the first game 3-0 but battled to a 3-2 win in the nightcap to avoid the sweep.
The winner of Saturday’s game will take the all-time series lead which remains deadlocked at 4-4. The two teams last met on Mar. 12, 2004 at the Democrat Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla. Then fourth-ranked Florida State defeated A&M 8-0.
Massachusetts sits at 4-6 on the season after suffering three close losses at the Palm Springs Classic last weekend, including a 4-2 nail-biter to No. 5 UCLA, a 6-4 slide to No. 10 Baylor, and a 13-inning 4-2 thriller to NCAA defending national champion No. 9 Arizona. The Minutewomen rebounded nicely though for a pair of wins over Fresno State (4-3) and Michigan State (5-1).
Saturday’s game marks the fifth meeting between the two schools.
A&M brought the all-time series record to an even 2-2 after defeating UMass, 3-2, last season in Boca Raton, Fla. at the FAU Parents’ Weekend Tournament.
North Carolina State moved to 7-8 on the season after going 2-2 at the College of Charleston’s Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C. last weekend. The Wolfpack collected wins over the College of Charleston, 5-2, and Liberty, 2-1, while suffering 2-3 and 3-4 losses to Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State respectively. NC State posted a 3-1 win over UNC-Greensboro on Wednesday in its first game at Curtis & Jacqueline Dail Softball Stadium.
Sunday’s game marks the first ever meeting between the Aggies and Wolfpack.
A&M improved to 18-2 on the season after sweeping its mid-week doubleheader Wednesday against No. 14 Houston. A&M won 2-0 and 8-7 to hand the Cougars their first two losses of the season.
Texas A&M senior All-American Megan Gibson became the Big 12’s career homerun leader with her 48th longball in the nightcap of the two-game series. Gibson is also currently the team and Big 12 leader in RBIs with 21.
Freshman Natalie Villarreal sits second on the team in RBIs with 15, which ranks third in the Big 12 behind Gibson and Oklahoma State first baseman Kim Kaye. The lefty second baseman has scored a Big 12-leading 18 runs on 16 hits, including six doubles and two homeruns.
The Aggies will return to action Mar. 6-9 as they host the Aggie Classic presented by Honeybaked Ham and Café. A&M kicks-off tournament play against BYU on Thursday at 6 p.m.