COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Coming off of its first series sweep of the season, the No. 16 Texas A&M softball team (32-14, 12-6 Big 12) enters a rivalry series with No. 7 Texas (37-7, 11-5 Big 12) in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown this weekend.
The Aggies and Longhorns will split sites in the three-game conference matchup, with game one beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 at the Aggie Softball Complex. The contest will move to Austin on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. game on FSN. The series finale will also be battled in the state capital, with a 5 p.m. first pitch Sunday on the Longhorn Network.
LAST TIME OUT
The Aggies earned their first conference series sweep of the season on Tuesday night, run-ruling No. 25 Baylor, 10-2 in six innings in the finale. Four Aggies hit home runs, including junior Brittany Walker, who hit her career first bomb over center field. Junior Mel Dumezich (23-10) took the win from the circle and hit the walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Each of the Aggies’ games this weekend will be broadcast on live television. Fans can enjoy Thursday’s game from College Station on ESPN2, with Beth Mowins and Michele Smith calling the action. Game two Saturday will be broadcast live from Austin on FSN. Brenda Van Lengen will bring play-by-play action with Tracy Warren offering an analysis of the game. Fans with access to the Longhorn Network can watch Sunday’s action live. Aggie All-American pitcher Amanda Scarborough will be joined by Cat Osterman and Fran Harris in the booth as A&M and Texas battle in the series finale in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.
Live stats and live audio will be provided for every game this season on AggieAthletics.com, while live streaming video will be offered at each of the Aggies’ home games. Fans can also listen to all of the Aggies’ games live on 95.1-3 The Zone HD, making it available worldwide on any Smartphone or HD radio. The games Thursday and Sunday will be featured locally on Sports Radio 1150 AM. Log on to RadioAggieland.com for more information.
STATE FARM LONE STAR SHOWDOWN
The State Farm Lone Star Showdown is an all-sport rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M. Each year, the schools battle for the best of 19 possible points in each of the 19 sports sponsored by the two universities. This season, Texas leads A&M in the rivalry, 9-to-4. The winner of the three game series between the Aggies and Longhorns on the softball diamond will receive one point for that school.
AGGIES IN THE POLLS
Texas A&M is ranked 16th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll and 18th in the USA Today/NFCA rankings. The Aggies’ remaining 2012 opponent appearing in the polls is No. 7/8 Texas.
To make up for the loss of earlier games due to inclement weather, the Aggies will travel to Boise, Idaho to play Boise State, May 10, 11 and 12. The Aggies and Broncos will face off each day at 5 p.m. CST at the Mountain Cove Softball Field in Boise.
The Aggies will end Big 12 play at home with a three-game series against Kansas next weekend. Game one Friday will start at 7 p.m. with game two following on Saturday at 3 p.m. First pitch for the Sunday series finale is set for 11 a.m.
Sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk was named the Big 12 player of the week and the College Sports Madness Big 12 Player of the Week this week. The right fielder hit .778 in the series win over No. 24 Texas Tech last week, going 7-for-9 from the plate with a double, a home run, six runs scored and eight RBI. She also drew three walks and reached base 10 times in 12 plate appearances for a .833 on base percentage. The left-handed hitter was perfect on the base paths, stealing two bags in as many attempts.
Dumezich’s two grand slams vs. BYU on Feb. 24 tied an NCAA single-game record. Only three other players in the history of Division I softball have hit two base-clearing long balls in a single game, the most recent being in 2007. Dumezich joins sophomore Amber Garza at No. 3 on the single-season grand slams list with three, as she powered a grand slam in the Aggies’ home opener against Sam Houston State. Garza hit three grand slams last season, two of them in the NCAA College Station Regional.
Dumezich has also shined in the circle this season, breaking her career strikeout record twice. She threw 14 strikeouts against No. 18 Hawaii on March 16 and bested that record during Friday’s OSU game when she fanned 15 batters in eight innings.
Evans welcomes a group of five freshmen to the team this season. Lauren Ainsley (RHP – La Vernia, Texas), Brittany Clopton (OF – Montgomery, Texas), Kayla Klein (RHP – Whittier, Calif.), Sara Mireles (LHP – New Braunfels, Texas) and Lauren Tamayo (UT – Roanoke, Texas) will put on the Maroon & White in 2012.
The Longhorns (37-7, 11-5 Big 12) rank second in the Big 12 this season, just above the No. 3 Aggies. Last weekend Texas hosted Oklahoma State and took the series 2-1 despite dropping a 3-0 shutout to the unranked Cowgirls. Lexy Bennett is hitting .408 to lead the team to a .338 combined batting average. She owns eight doubles, three triples and eight long balls for a total of 51 hits on the season while scoring 38 runs and picking up 49 RBI. Bennett isn’t afraid to take a walk, however, and has reached first 21 times on four balls. The Texas pitching staff combines for a 1.99 ERA this season with Blaire Luna taking most of the decisions from the circle at 16-3. The right-hander has fanned 185 batters and has given up 37 earned runs on 88 hits. Bennett and Luna each took one Big 12 weekly award at the beginning of the season for their efforts.
A&M and Texas have faced each year since 1997 with the Aggies edging the Longhorns in the all-time series, 19-18. The teams have split sites and/or played at a neutral venue every season. In the last three seasons, the teams also split games in a two-game conference matchup. Last season, the Longhorns took game one at home in a close 4-3 victory. A month later the No. 22 Aggies earned a 5-1 upset victory over third-ranked Texas in College Station.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The Aggies are 16-4 at home this season, and 43-4 in the last 46 games. A&M recently ended a program-best 34-game home winning streak, starting April 25, 2010. The streak was also the longest active home winning streak in the nation as the Aggies went undefeated at home in 2011. This is the longest home winning streak A&M has had since the program’s inception in 1981. The previous record holder by Aggie softball was a 21-game ride from Feb. 19, 2005-May 22, 2005.
In the latest RPI rankings (through April 24), A&M sits at No. 11 in the nation, behind only two Big 12 schools – No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas. The Aggies are among the best in the nation in several categories this season, through games of April 22. As a team, A&M ranks 21st in fielding percentage (.973), 38th in win-loss percentage (0.689) and 36th in home runs per game (0.91). Junior Meagan May has drawn a national fifth-highest 0.91 walks per game. Dumezich is among the top 40 in the nation in three categories, with 8.1 strikeouts per seven innings (38th), 22 victories (18th) and 244 strikeouts (8th).
The Aggies are also among the best in the conference in all games in several areas, as of April 22. May’s 41 walks top the competition, and her .484 on base percentage this season ranks third, while Dumezich ranks fourth with 31 walks. The right-hander leads the league in innings pitched (211.2), appearances (37) and games started (30), and is second in strikeouts (244) and third in wins (22). Sophomore Emily Albus ranks fifth with a .387 batting average and is second with 10 sacrifice bunts, while juniors Brittany Walker and Sydney Shannon each own nine and tie for third. Senior leadoff hitter Natalie Villarreal ranks fourth in total plate appearances (171) and at bats (148). As a team, A&M has more walks (180) and sacrifice bunts (49) than any other team in the league and is second in total plate appearances (1428), at bats (1171), putouts (936) and innings pitched (312.0).
In 2011 Dumezich was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American second team after earning a 1.92 ERA in 247 1/3 Innings pitched. The junior gave up only 68 runs while fanning 262 batters as a sophomore and ranks ninth on the Aggies’ career strikeouts list.
May earned All-America second team honors in 2010 as a freshman. The standout catcher broke the team and Big 12 records for home runs in a season after clearing the fence 24 times. She also posted a team-leading .405 batting average, 66 hits, 16 doubles, 62 RBI, a .945 slugging percentage and a .557 on base percentage. May was one of only six Aggies to earn the honor as a freshman.
Tickets for the 2012 softball season can be purchased through the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Office for $5-$8. Fans can purchase tickets to every home game in person at The Zone at Kyle Field box office, online at www.12thManFoundation.com, or over the phone at 1-888-99-AGGIE (2-4443) or (979) 845-2311. The ticket window at the Aggie Softball Complex will open one hour prior to each home game, at which time remaining tickets may be purchased at the gate.
Parking this season is free for each home game that does not share a date with a baseball game. Fans can park in Reed Arena Lot 100, across the street from the Aggie Softball Complex. For conflicting dates, fans will be charged $5 to park.
BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
A&M was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Aggies received 37 points and finished behind preseason favorite Missouri (59), and Oklahoma (56), Texas (50) and Baylor (45). A&M was selected as the frontrunner for three consecutive years, from 2006-08, and was picked fourth last season, ending 2011 in third place. Oklahoma State placed sixth with 32 points, followed by Texas Tech (22), Kansas (13) and Iowa State (10).
GET IT LIVE
Live audio and live stats are featured in every A&M game in 2012. Several contests will be aired on Sports Radio 1150 AM. All other games will be broadcast live on AggieAthletics.com and on 95.1-3 The Zone HD, making it available worldwide on any iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry or PDA free of charge. Log on to RadioAggieland.com for more information.