May 19, 2011

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COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS -

The No. 16 seed Texas A&M softball team will play host this weekend in its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship. The Aggies face Sacred Heart Friday at 7 p.m. at the Aggie Softball Complex in their first game of the regional. A game between LSU and Syracuse will precede the A&M-SHU matchup and is set for 4 p.m.

The weekend is double-elimination and the winner advances to the super regional, May 27-29, versus the winner of the Tempe Regional hosted by No. 1 seed Arizona State.

In its tenth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Aggies (41-13) were an at-large selection, along with LSU (38-16). Sacred Heart (29-19) and Syracuse (44-11) were both awarded automatic qualification after claiming conference titles.

Texas A&M begins the postseason at home for the first time since 2008 when the No. 5 seed Aggies' season ended in the championship game of the Women's College World Series (WCWS) against Arizona State. The Aggies are on a seven-game winning streak and are undefeated at home this season.

The Tigers go into the weekend hungry for a third WCWS appearance in their 13th NCAA Regional berth. SHU has won nine of its last ten games, claiming the team's second Northeast Conference title and a second automatic NCAA tournament qualification. The Orange also grabbed a conference title for automatic qualification, winning their second-consecutive BIG EAST championship for a second-ever NCAA tournament appearance in as many years.

Additional Game Times
Friday, May 20
Game 1: LSU vs. Syracuse - 4 p.m.
Game 2: No. 16 Texas A&M vs. Sacred Heart - 7 p.m.
 
Saturday, May 21
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner - 1 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser - 4 p.m.
Game 5: Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 loser - 7 p.m. 
 
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner - 1:00 p.m.
Game 7: Rematch if necessary - :30 after Game 6

LIVE STATS
Free live stats will be provided for every game this weekend on AggieAthletics.com and NCAA.com.

LIVE AUDIO
Fans can listen to every A&M game this weekend broadcast live on AggieAthletics.com and Sports Radio 1150 AM, making them available worldwide on any iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry or PDA free of charge. Log on to RadioAggieland.com for more information.

LIVE STREAMING VIDEO
Each game this weekend will feature live video streaming on AggieAthletics.com.

TICKETS
Tickets for the College Station Regional are available through the A&M Ticket Office at (979) 845-2311 or (888) 992-4443. All-Session tickets are $25 for reserved seats, $20 for general admission and $15 for student GA and can also be purchased online by visiting 12thmanfoundation.com/tickets. Single Session adult general admission is $7, reserved is $10, and student GA is $5.

FIRST 100 STUDENTS FREE
Per donations by the Texas A&M Softball Double Play Club, the first 100 students with a valid college ID each day will receive free admission to the College Station Regional.

A&M IN THE POSTSEASON
The Aggies have advanced to the NCAA Championship more times than any Big 12 program. In addition, A&M has won the most NCAA Tournament games of any conference school and holds a 61-45 all-time record. The team advanced to the super regional three times (2005, 07, 08), the NCAA WCWS seven times (1983, 84, 86, 87, 88, 2007, 08) and won the NCAA national championship twice (1983, 87).

BIG 12 TEAMS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Big 12 Conference placed eight teams in the tournament, the most of any DI conference, for only the second time in league history (2005). The Pacific-10 Conference and the Southeastern Conference also have seven teams in the championship, while Conference USA placed five in the field. No. 16 seed A&M, No. 9 seed Oklahoma, Texas Tech, No. 5 seed Missouri, No. 3 seed Texas, Oklahoma State, No. 11 seed Baylor and Nebraska all received bids. The Aggies, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri host their respective regionals.

A LOOK AT THE BRACKET
Should the Aggies win the College Station Regional, they will advance to face the winner of the Tempe Regional for a best-of-three series May 27-29. The four-team field consists of No. 1 seed Arizona State, North Dakota State, San Diego State and Long Beach State. After super regionals, the remaining eight teams will advance to the WCWS, an eight-team, double-elimination tournament.  The championship final will be a best-of-three-series. The WCWS will be conducted June 2-8 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

AGGIES VS. THE COLLEGE STATION REGIONAL
The Aggies are 8-2 all-time versus the field in College Station. A&M posts a 4-2 record with the Tigers, a 4-0 record against the Orange and have will play Sacred Heart for the first time Friday. A&M last faced LSU in an elimination game last season at the Baton Rouge Regional on the Louisiana State campus. The Aggies knocked the No. 12 seed host Tigers out of NCAA play with a 1-0 win on a home run by then-freshman Meagan May. The Orange last fought the maroon and white in a single game in the 2007 Texas A&M Invitational. Two solo home runs squeezed the Aggies to a 2-1 lead over Syracuse.

LAST TIME OUT
Texas A&M sophomore Mel Dumezich struck out 13 and hit two solo bombs, batting .500 in two games, to help the Aggies to a sweep of Texas Tech (RV) and a third place conference finish. From Whiting, Ind., Dumezich threw her 12th complete-game shutout in game after allowing just two hits. Sophomore Brittany Walker was also .500 on the weekend with three base hits while freshman Taran Tyler made her first Big 12 hit a two-RBI triple Friday in her only at-bat of the weekend.

DUMEZICH AND VILLARREAL ON NFCA ALL-CENTRAL REGION TEAM
Dumezich and redshirt junior Natalie Villarreal were named to the NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-Central Region team Thursday. Dumezich took first-team honors as a utility pitcher, a second-consecutive All-Central Region honor for the sophomore. Villarreal was selected to the second team. This was also a second-time honor for the lefty second baseman.

FOUR AGGIES RECEIVE ALL-BIG 12 HONORS
Villarreal, Dumezich and senior Rhi Kliesing was selected to the second team. Villarreal was also named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career. Kliesing is a three-time All-Big 12 selection, while Villarreal and Dumezich have each been chosen twice. Spittler is a first-time honoree.

FRESHMAN FRENZY
Five freshmen have started in games for the Aggies this season, while three are regulars in the lineup. Amber Garza has started in all but three games at third base, recording 40 hits as an Aggie including 10 doubles, a triple and seven home runs for 37 RBI and 25 runs. Cassie Tysarczyk is a regular in right field who adds five doubles and seven bombs to A&M's tally while stealing five bases in as many attempts. Nicole Morgan has started in 40 games, most of them behind the plate. She owns 24 RBI on 23 hits, three of them doubles and eight of them homers.

HOME RUNS GALORE
Texas A&M has blasted 71 home runs this season for a new program record, including six grand slams, in 54 games.  The team sits at seventh in the nation in the most recent NCAA statistical rankings (as of May 17) in home runs per game with a 1.31 average. Kliesing is 19th in the nation with 16 home runs and is 31st in home runs per game, individually. Of A&M's 19 players, 12 have gone yard in 2011. Undefeated at home, the Aggies have cleared their own fence 42 times, including three times in the one-run victory over No. 15 Baylor, once against No. 12 Nebraska and No. 3 Texas and five times in the sweep of No. 16 OSU. The team also had a solo bomb against top-ranked Arizona early in the season.

NATIONALLY-RANKED
The Aggies are ranked No. 14 overall in the most recent RPI standings and sit in the top 25 in four categories (through games May 17) - home runs per game (7), win-loss percentage (20), earned run average (25) and slugging percentage (21). Individually, Kliesing sits at 19th in home runs and 31st in home runs per game. Dumezich ranks 10th in the nation in shutouts and 14th in victories. May is 17th in sacrifice flies, 25th in walks and 29th in RBI per game.

LEADING THE WAY
Villarreal leads A&M with a .346 batting average and 53 hits. She holds a team-best 43 runs and 13 doubles. Kliesing is second on the team with a .333 batting average, 48 hits, 33 runs, 16 home runs, 49 RBI and 104 total bases. Dumezich (27-8) leads ranks second in the league with 12 shutouts, and posts a 1.76 ERA in 39 appearances.

In conference games, Spittler has a team-best .354 average, 17 hits and four home runs. Villarreal has hit six doubles in Big 12 contests, and Garza and Dumezich each have four home runs in league play. Dumezich leads the conference in overall stats for complete games (31) and ranks second in shutouts.

AGGIES IN THE POLLS
Texas A&M moved up two spots this week to No. 17 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and remained at No. 18 in the USA Today/NFCA poll. The Aggies have been a constant in both polls all season, starting 2011 at No. 19 and currently holding a season best.

DUMEZICH TWO-TIME BIG 12 PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Dumezich earned her second Big 12 Pitcher of the Week award on May 11. From Whiting, Ind., Dumezich held No. 11 Oklahoma State to a single run twice and a .184 batting average in a doubleheader sweep. The right-hander posted a 1.00 ERA and threw a two-hit, complete game for her first win. Dumezich earned her other Big 12 weekly award on March 30 after she struck out a career-high 11 against Kansas en route to 18 K's on the weekend. The Aggie hurler posted a 0.00 ERA, gave up just four hits and went 2-0 on the week.

RUN RULERS
Texas A&M has run-ruled 15 opponents this season with the NCAA's eight-runs-after-five-innings rule, while never taking a loss in a shortened contest themselves. Eight of the run-rules were shutouts.

LONGEST WINNING STREAK
The Aggies amassed an eight-game winning streak from March 13-22. The team is currently on a seven-game streak, paralleled this season from March 9-17.

LONGEST HITTING STREAK
Villarreal holds the longest hitting streak of the season in which she held a .417 average over 16 games and Kliesing's longest was a 13-game streak in which she hit .531. May went on a nine-game hitting streak Feb. 16-24 and hit .385 over the stretch. Spittler and Walker each had a hit in eight consecutive games, posting a .565 and .458 average, respectively.

PERFECTION AT THE PLATE
Dumezich, Garza, Kliesing, Spittler and Villarreal all had perfect performances at the dish this season. Dumezich was 3-for-3 with a triple, a double and an RBI against Long Island, and Garza went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored vs. Florida A&M. Kliesing was 3-for-3, scoring three runs on three hits for three RBI against Sam Houston State while Spittler did the same at Kansas. Villarreal had two 3-for-3 games, scoring three runs at Stephen F. Austin and one against UT-Arlington.

BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
A&M was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Aggies received 54 points and finished behind preseason favorite Oklahoma (79), Missouri (71) and Texas (69). A&M was selected as the frontrunner for three consecutive years, from 2006-08, and was picked sixth last season. Oklahoma State placed fifth with 50 points, followed by Baylor (40), Texas Tech (33), Nebraska (26), Iowa State (15) and Kansas (13).