COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Fresh off of an undefeated opening weekend, the 10th-ranked Texas A&M softball team (4-0) travels to regional rival Sam Houston State (2-3) Wednesday for a single game.
The Aggies and Bearkats will face off at 5 p.m. CST at Bearkat Softball Complex. Live audio of the game can be heard via 95.1-3 The Zone HD on any HD radio or smartphone, or on AggieAthletics.com and RadioAggieland.com.
LAST TIME OUT
The Aggies broke into the national top 10 after returning from a weekend in California with a 4-0 record on the season. A&M started the season with run-rule wins over Long Beach State (8-0) and Wright State (11-0), while slamming CSU Bakersfield (7-1) and fighting to a one-run extra-inning victory over host school No. 19 UCLA (7-6).
Junior Nicole Morgan had an outstanding 2013 start, hitting .538 on the weekend with five runs, seven hits, four home runs (including one grand slam), 10 RBI, 3 walks and a 1.462 slugging percentage. Senior Mel Dumezich (3-0) threw two shutouts (one solo and one combined), tossing 23 strikeouts in 15 innings of work. Sophomore Lauren Ainsley (1-0) broke her career strikeout record with 10 vs. CSUB and picked up a save against UCLA on her way to a perfect 0.00 ERA on the week.
The Aggies combined for 33 runs, 41 hits (12 HR, 5 2B), 32 RBI and a .357 average on the weekend, while the pitching staff of Dumezich, Ainsley and freshman Kristen Davenport struck out 33 and allowed just three earned runs on 15 hits to hold opponents to a .160 average at the plate.
SCOUTING SAM HOUSTON STATE
The Bearkats were the 2012 Southland Conference runners-up with a 29-21 record overall and 14-6 mark in conference play. Sam Houston State started the 2013 season at the Baylor Bear Invitational last weekend, grabbing a pair of wins against Illinois State (8-6) and then-No. 22 Baylor (2-0) for a 2-3 start on the year. Tori Benavidez leads the team with a .353 average, hitting a double and a home run last weekend for three RBI and three runs scored. Hillary Adams had five hits on the season-opening tournament, including two home runs, to collect 6 RBI and three runs scored with a .733 slugging percentage. In the circle, Shelby Lancaster (3.75) and Quinn Meme (4.35) each have a 1-0 record. Lancaster picked up a solo shutout, throwing three strikeouts, and Meme fanned seven for her first win of the season.
In the storied past between the two schools, A&M holds an 87-13 advantage over Sam Houston State. The teams split sites in 2012, culminating in a pair of Aggie wins.
Sam Houston State Head Coach Bob Brock spent 15 years with the Aggies, winning a trio of National Championships with the Maroon and White. The Bearkats' skipper was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. Bearkat Assistant Coach Adrian Gregory graced the Aggie softball roster from 2001-05, leading the team as a captain and earning ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-Region and Academic All-Big 12 honors. The shortstop was also named All-Big 12 as a junior in 2004.
The Aggies' success in their first weekend as a Southeastern Conference team showed in the SEC rankings as the team tops league members in several areas. A&M's 0.84 ERA is an SEC best, as are team slugging percentage (.713), home runs (12), fewest earned runs allowed (3), fewest walks allowed (5) and fewest doubles allowed (1). Individually, Morgan leads the SEC in slugging percentage (1.462) and home runs (4) and is second in RBI (10). Ainsley is one of just three hurlers with a perfect ERA, and leads the league in opposing batting average (.071), while Dumezich ranks first in wins (3) and games started (3), and sits at second in strikeouts thrown (23).
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, 29 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 SEC 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.
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.
The Aggies will host the annual Aggie Classic this weekend as Pittsburgh, No. 23 North Carolina and Stephen F. Austin make the trip to College Station. The first A&M softball home game is Friday, Feb. 15, vs. Pitt at 3 p.m. All home games are played at the Aggie Softball Complex. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.