By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — If ever a softball team figured itself destined to land a colossal upset, Texas A&M may be that team.
The Aggies are at Marita Hynes Field for NCAA super regional play beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, where they’ll meet Oklahoma, a clear favorite to not only return to the Women’s College World Series, but also to win it.
The Sooners have dropped four games all season and are coming off a regional victory in which they outscored their opponents 41-6. Meanwhile, the Aggies might consider themselves a team of destiny.
On the second day of the College Station Regional, A&M trailed Baylor 5-0 before coming back to win 6-5, doing so with a flourish with back-to-back seventh inning home runs from Cali Lanphear and Nicole Morgan.
That victory afforded the Aggies two chances to win one game the following day, a luxury they needed after giving up a 5-2 edge only to lose 9-5 in their second regional meeting against the Bears.
In the winner-take-all finale that followed, A&M run-ruled Baylor 8-0, getting a five-inning two-hitter from No. 2 pitcher Lauren Ainsley and two home runs and five RBIs from shortstop Amber Garza.
Not many teams come back from 5-0 down in the sixth inning. Also, not many teams give back their game in hand and still go on to win their regional.
“I say it all the time,” said A&M coach Jo Evans, who will be guiding the Aggies into the program’s fifth super regional. “I really love our fight, we never quit.”
The Aggies (42-16) are among the last 16 teams standing despite compiling a sub-.500 10-13 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Nonetheless, they still earned a No. 16 RPI ranking before entering regional play.
That’s a testament to the SEC, which also counts Florida (No. 2), Alabama (No. 5), LSU (No. 6), Missouri (No. 7), Tennessee (No. 9) and Kentucky (No. 10), as well as A&M, as having top-20 RPI numbers.
The Aggies don’t have an ace in the circle. Instead, they have Ainsley (14-7, 2.49 earned run average, 121 innings pitched) and Mel Dumezich (27-8, 2.58, 216 2/3), a pair of capable arms.
A&M is better at the plate, hitting .308 as a team, compiling a .414 on-base percentage and a .579 slugging percentage. Also, the Aggies have a propensity for going deep.
Lanphear has hit 20 home runs this season; Morgan and Meagan May have both clubbed 16; Garza, Cassie Tysarczyk and Dumezich have all hit 12 and Jenna Stark has hit 10.
The Aggies lead the nation at 1.74 home runs per game. The Sooners are No. 3 at 1.59.
OU has clearly earned its favorite status, but A&M, given the previous weekend, has every reason to believe it won’t go quietly.
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