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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Softball

Cougars look to spoil No. 5 Aggies perfect season


The Cougars return to action Wednesday night in College Station, looking to avenge last year’s 12-0 loss to the Aggies. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

Coming off a west coast trip where they went 1-4, the Cougars return to action Wednesday as they travel to College Station to face No. 5/5 Texas A&M.

Now 6-11 on the season, the Cougars have a chance to to hand the Aggies their first loss of the season after starting 2017 15-0. Last time they faced a top 5 team, the Cougars took No. 4/6 Oklahoma to the brink, falling in extra innings in both sides of the double header on Feb. 18.

Despite being held to one hit against No. 17 Utah over the weekend, the Cougar offense has been on fire, ranking second in the American in scoring with 5.06 runs per game and leading in hits (122), home runs (16) and RBIs (80).

Senior utility player Shelby Miller has provided the power this season, currently ranking No. 3 in the NCAA in both home runs (7) and RBIs (22). Hitting .306/.375/.755, Miller ranks in the top 10 of the AAC in seven offensive categories.

Sophomore outfielder Maya Thomas and freshman utility player Arielle James lead the Cougars in batting average, while ranking No. 1 and No. 4 in the AAC respectively. Together they have combined for 41 of the 122 Cougar hits.

On the mound the trio of sophomore Presley Bell, sophomore Savannah Heebner and freshman Trystan Melancon have led the way for the Cougars, each with two wins. The staff is currently posting a 3.52 ERA with Heebner leading the way at 3.09.

If the Cougars hope to upset the Aggies, they are going to have to contend with an A&M staff that currently ranks No. 16 in the NCAA with a 1.32 ERA. They are holding opposing batters to a .300 average and junior pitcher Lexi Smith ranks fifth in the SEC with 46 strikeouts.

The trip to College Station will be a homecoming for two Cougars as first-year assistant coach Megan Gibson-Loftin and volunteer assistant Cassie Tysarczyk both spent their playing days at A&M.

In her time as an Aggie from 2005-2008 Gibson-Loftin broke five career school records, ranking in the top 10 in 10 categories and became the first player to be named both the Big 12 Player and Pitcher of the Year in the same season.

In 2014 she was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame.

Tysarczyk was a two-time captain for the Aggies in her career from 2011-2014. She was named third team All-American and second team All-SEC following her senior year. This will be her first time back to College Station after spending last season at Miami (Ohio).

First pitch against the Aggies is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and will be broadcast online at SEC Network Plus.

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