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Courtesy: Brian Tannehill

Texas Southern draws #9 Texas A&M to begin NCAA regionals

Courtesy: SWAC.org
Release: 05/14/2017
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After winning their third title in the last four years, the Texas Southern Lady Tigers won't have to travel too far from home to open the NCAA Women's Softball Tournament.

Texas Southern (25-19, 12-6 SWAC) is slated to face No. 9 seed Texas A&M in the College Station Regional. Joining the Lady Tigers in the regional will be Texas State and the University of Texas, who will square off in the other half of the bracket. Texas Southern will face Texas A&M on Friday at 6:30 PM. The bracket was announced Sunday night on ESPNU.

TSU, who earned the Southwestern Athletic Confernece's automatic qualifier bid after posting a 4-1 SWAC Softball tournament record that culiminated in a 6-4 defeat of 2016 SWAC champion Alabama State, heads into the NCAA regionals with what is statistically one of the more effective pitching duos in the nation, wth first-team All-SWAC selections Lauren Rodriguez (10-4 W/L, 1.66 ERA, 91 K) -- who earned SWAC tournament MVP honors -- and league Pitcher of the Year Jasmine Fulmore (11-4 W/L, 1.82 ERA, 97 K) in the circle.

Leading the way at the plate is Jocilynn Ellis (.387 BA, 27 R), Dominique Tello (.347 BA, 30 R, 24 RBI, 42 H), and 2017 SWAC Freshman of the Year Madilynn Marek (.330 BA, 32 H, 22 RBI). As Texas Southern generates about 4.5 runs per contest, getting those three going at the plate will be paramount for the upset-minded Lady Tigers.

 While Texas A&M ended the season on a three-game skid punctuated by a extra-inning 2-1 loss to Alabama in the SEC Softall Tournament Quarterfinals, the Lady Aggies  averaged around six runs per game on its way to a 42-10 (16-7 SEC) overall record and ranked in the top 20 nationally in several power offense categories. Additionally,  the matchup has the potential to be a low-scoring one on paper, as the Lady Aggies field one of the best defensive units in the country.

Texas A&M's .972 fielding percentage -- by comparison, TSU boasts a .962 clip in the ctaegory -- is fourth-best in the nation, and as a team TAMU has amassed a 1.83 earned run average. Led by Trinity Harrington (13-2 W/L, 1.56 ERA, 62 K), Lexi Smith (11-1 W/L, 1.65 ERA, 108 K) and wins leader Samantha Shaw (17-6 W/L, 1.87 ERA, 110 K), the Lady Aggies have one of the deeper pitching corps standing in the tournament field.

Offensively, Tori Vidales (.291, 15 HR, 41 RBI), Riley Sartain (.354 BA, 11 HR, 41 RBI) and Kristen Cuyos (.282 BA, 10 HR, 37 RBI) power the Lady Aggie batting order.

The contest will be shown on ESPN3.