COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The No. 9 Texas A&M softball team (12-0) looks to improve on what is now tied for the best start in program history this weekend as the Aggies host the Texas A&M Invitational at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Purdue (5-5), Southeastern Louisiana (8-2) and UTSA (6-4) will make the trip to College Station for the four-team, 10-game tournament.
The Aggies will play UTSA at 3 p.m. on Friday, followed by a game against Purdue at 5:15 p.m. On Saturday, the Aggies and Boilermakers will rematch at 3 p.m. before A&M plays UTSA one last time at 5:15 p.m. A&M and SELU will face off at 12:15 p.m. Sunday.
Non-A&M games will be played at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 10 a.m. on Sunday. For more information on the Texas A&M Invitational, visit the official tournament page at AggieAthletics.com.
Fans could win several prizes this weekend at the Texas A&M Invitational, including a signed softball, a signed poster, a signed football and a 32" TV. To be entered into the drawing fans must attend four of the Aggies' five games during the tournament and get a Texas A&M Invitational Card, available at the 12th Man Rewards table, stamped during each game you attend.
The 12th Man Foundation is running a special ticket promotion for Aggie events this weekend. On Saturday, fans can take their men's basketball tickets to Aggie softball for $3 General Admission tickets and/or to Aggie Baseball for $4 GA tickets. On Sunday, fans with baseball tickets can catch the Aggie softball game at noon for $3 by presenting their baseball ticket at the box office. Softball ticket holders can end the day with Aggie baseball for $4 by presenting their softball ticket at the box office.
LAST TIME OUT
Senior pitcher Mel Dumezich threw her career-first no-hitter in game two as the Aggies swept a doubleheader against Stephen F. Austin (4-9) with a pair of shutout wins Wednesday at the Aggie Softball Complex. The Aggies had several records on the day, tying the program's best start with a 12-0 record. Senior Meagan May hit her 56th-career home run in game one to tie the program record set by Megan Gibson. Sophomore Lauren Ainsley pitched a complete game in game one, throwing a career-best 11 strikeouts, and Dumezich's no-hitter highlighted the twin bill.
The Boilermakers (5-5) return eight starters from the 2012 squad that was 31-22 overall and 13-10 in the Big Ten to finish sixth in the conference. Andie Varsho (.424) leads the team’s hitting effort with six RBI on 14 hits, including two doubles. Five Purdue players have swiped three bags on the base paths, and five have three-or-more RBI on the season. In the circle, Lilly Fecho (2-2) and Lexy Moore (1-2) have been the main pitchers of record, throwing 28.0 and 19.0 innings respectively. Fecho owns 18 strikeouts and a 2.00 ERA, while Moore has fanned six batters and has a 2.21 ERA. The Aggies and Boilermakers have met just once in history, with Purdue taking a 3-1 victory in Boca Raton in 2009.
SCOUTING SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA
The Lady Lions (8-2) were 15-34 last season, with a 5-15 Southland Conference mark. The team retained 12 letterwinners and six starters from the 2012 ball club, but are being led by a crop of newcomers this season. True freshman Taylor Bishop (2-1) and junior transfer Rachael Hellyer (3-0) have done most of the work in the circle this season, tossing 20.2 and 22.2 innings respectively. Bishop has fanned 21 batters and allowed just two earned runs for a 0.68 ERA, and Hellyer has a 0.93 ERA on three earned runs while striking out 14. From the plate, freshman Amber Sather leads the way with a .444 average, four runs scored, 12 hits, two doubles, three home runs, 11 walks and 13 RBI. A&M holds a 4-0 all-time advantage over SELU. The teams last met in a 9-1 Aggie win in College Station in 2006.
The Roadrunners went 24-28 in 2012, and tied for third in the Southland Conference with a 12-8 mark. The team is now in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and is 6-4 on the season. Megan Low (.500) is one of three UTSA hitters batting above .400. She owns four runs, 13 hits, three doubles, three home runs, 14 RBI, six walks and five hit-by-pitches this year. Vivian Tijerina is hitting .429 and has a team-best four long balls. Darian Blake (.414) has 12 hits, including one triple. In the circle, Haylee Staton leads the way with a 3-1 record, and Jolene Graham (2-1) has a staff’s best ERA at 1.42. Staton has tossed 26 strikeouts and allowed 10 earned runs on 29 hits. Graham has given up just four earned runs on 15 hits, while fanning eight. A&M and UTSA have a long history on the diamond with the Aggies leading the all-time series, 30-6. The teams last met last season when A&M took a 3-1 win in the Aggie Classic. The Aggies have won the past 12 straight contests, dating back to 2002.
UTSA assistant coach Megan Gibson is one of the big names in Aggie softball, garnering three NFCA All-American honors under A&M head coach Jo Evans in her four years in Maroon and White. The pitching standout was both Big 12 Player and Pitcher of the Year as a senior and led the Aggies to three conference titles and two WCWS appearances. In 2008 she was the runner-up for NFCA National Player of the Year. In 2011, Gibson was the Aggies' volunteer pitching coach, helping the team to an NCAA Super Regional finish and a combined 1.95 ERA in the circle.
The Aggies’ early success in their first season in the Southeastern Conference has shown in the SEC rankings as the team tops league members in several areas through last weekend’s games. A&M’s 0.98 ERA is an SEC best, as are team home runs (21), and the Aggies’ slugging percentage (.664), total bases (174), earned runs allowed (9), walks allowed (15) and wins (10) rank second in the league. Individually, Morgan leads the SEC in RBI (19) and home runs (7), and is second in total bases (37) while sophomore Brittany Clopton sits at second in the conference in sacrifice bunts with three. Dumezich tops the competition in the circle in innings pitched (40.0), batters struck out (53), wins (7), games started (7) and appearances (8), and ties for first with one save. From behind the plate, senior Meagan May leads with a 1.000 fielding percentage, 87 chances and 82 putouts.
A&M started the season ranked No. 17 in both national polls and is now sitting at No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 and No. 11 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. The Aggies’ 2013 opponents in the polls are ¬No. 2/1 Alabama, No. 4/4 Tennessee, No. 5/5 Florida, No. 7/8 Missouri, No. 11/10 LSU, No. 13/14 Michigan, No. 14/13 Georgia, No. 15/15 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 22/24 Kentucky and No. 23 North Carolina. In addition, North Carolina and Mississippi State are receiving votes.
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.
Stephen F. Austin will return to the Aggie Softball Complex for a Wednesday doubleheader. Game times are set for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.