#15 Texas A&M Softball Preview

Texas A&M Aggies

Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #3 Big 12
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Head Coach Jo Evans (589-286-2) returns for her 16th season after a 44-15 overall record and 13-5 record in the Big 12 last year.  The Aggies open the season February 10 in the Kajikawa Classic and play 27 of their 56 games at home. In 2011 the Aggies were undefeated at home (25-0) and have one of the toughest schedules in the nation, playing 11 teams that were ranked in the top 25.

2011: 44-15, 13-5
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jo Evans

Field Players:
After graduating five seniors in 2011, the Aggies return 14 letter winners to the diamond, including eight of last season's starting lineup. Both of A&M's starting pitchers - 2011 All-American Mel Dumezich and Lindsey Sisk - will return to the circle and are joined by freshman hurlers Lauren Ainsley, Kayla Klein and Sara Mireles. The Aggies have also added a freshman outfielder in Brittany Clopton (ranked 13th in the country by College Sports Madness) and a freshman utility player in Lauren Tamayo.  Georgetown transfer, sophomore Jenna Stark, (.310) also graces the 2012 roster. Two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and senior Natalie Villarreal (.335) will fill her second-base position for a final season, while All-College Station Regional selections Amber Garza,  (.291), Meagan May  (.311, 14 homers, 49 RBIs) and Dumezich will return to play for the Aggies. Junior Dumezich and senior Villarreal were named to the College Sports Madness Big 12 Softball Preseason All-Conference Team.

Dumezick compiled a 30-10 record with 1.92 ERA in 247.1 innings while Sisk was 14-5 with a 2.01 ERA. The Aggie pitching staff had a team ERA of 1.95 to rank 29th in Division One in 2011. Dumezick also has some power, hitting 10 homers and driving in 27 runs in 2011. Opponents batted only .207 against Aggie hurlers while the Aggies had a team batting average of .279 to rank 101st in Division One.

Who To Watch:
Dumezick, who ranked 13th in the nation in wins, and Sisk will be one of the top pitching tandems in the conference.  Meagan May played on the USA National Team last year and is expected to be among the team’s top power hitters in 2011. Clopton will be a player to watch. "Brittany has tremendous speed and is a very dynamic player," said Evans. "Brittany is a game-changer and a threat to steal at any time. She has great range in the outfield and always plays the game aggressively."

Final Projection:
The Aggies are picked to finish third in the conference behind Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12, which is expected to have one of its best seasons. The Aggies were one of the nation’s top home run hitting teams with 81, but last years HR leader Rhiannon Kliesing (18, .348) graduated. Players remaining will have to pick up the slack in the power department if the Aggies are to again gain a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
At Bats:  Natalie Villarreal, 2B, 170
Hits:   Natalie Villarreal, 2B, 57
Home Runs:  Meagan May, C/1B, 14
RBIs:  Meagan May, C/1B, 49
Runs:  Natalie Villarreal, 2B, 47
Stolen Bases:  Natalie Villarreal, 2B, 10

Wins: Mel Dumezich, P, 30
Innings Pitched: Mel Dumezich, P, 247.1
Strikeouts: Mel Dumezich, P, 262
Saves:  None

Madness 2012 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#13 Brittany Clopton