COLLEGE STATION – Coming off the Aggies’ 15th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regionals, Texas A&M softball head coach Jo Evans announced the upcoming slate for the 2017 campaign, highlighted by three non-conference tournaments at the Aggie Softball Complex and 26 games against teams that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
“I am looking forward to hosting three tournaments. It is always fun to be at home, especially at the beginning of the season,” Evans said. “We face an array of teams, and it is also fun to play teams we haven’t faced before. The Mary Nutter is always the best tournament we play at every year. We get a chance to play quality opponents and it is such a good gauge to see where we are at in the young part of the season and what we need to do to be successful in the SEC. The teams that we play there are comparable to what we will see in conference play. It is a great way to prepare our team.”
The Aggies open the season with the Aggie Classic on Feb. 10-12, which features Lamar, Ohio State and Central Michigan. Following a midweek game with Sam Houston State, Texas A&M welcomes Stephen F. Austin, Missouri State and New Mexico to Aggieland for the Texas A&M Invitational.
The Maroon & White then head to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Classic, a tournament the Aggies finished 6-0 last season with wins over No. 9 Washington, No. 10 Arizona and No. 16 UCF. The Aggies open with ACC foes North Carolina State and Florida State on Feb. 23, followed by Arizona State on Feb. 24. Texas A&M concludes the tournament with BYU and Michigan on Feb. 25.
The Aggies return to the Aggie Softball Complex on March 1 for a meeting with Houston, who is coached by former Texas A&M All-Americans, Megan Gibson-Loftin and Cassie Tysarczyk. On March 3-5, the Aggies host their final non-conference tournament, the Texas A&M Invite, with Georgetown, Prairie View A&M and UTSA visiting.
Texas A&M travels to Huntsville, Texas, to face Sam Houston State on March 8, before opening SEC play with Mississippi State at home on March 10-12. The Aggies host conference series with Missouri (March 24-26), Georgia (April 21-23) and Tennessee (May 5-7).
Texas A&M steps out of conference play, April 7-9, with a three-game series at home against Oklahoma State.
On the road, the Aggies face Ole Miss (March 17-19), South Carolina (April 1-3), Arkansas (April 14-16) and Kentucky (April 28-30) in SEC play.
“It is always tough in the SEC,” Evans added. “I am excited. This is a year I project us to finish higher than we ever have in the SEC standings. I think we have the talent and depth to do that. It is exciting to host Mississippi State, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee. We had to meet them at their place a year ago and it was challenging for us. It gives us an opportunity to come out and compete in front of our home crowd. Road trips are always fun, we get to go to various schools and have our freshmen see what it is all about to play in the SEC.”
The Aggies host Louisiana-Lafayette for a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Regional on April 19. Other midweek contests include at Memphis (March 14), Texas State (March 29) and McNeese State (April 5).
The SEC Tournament begins May 10 in Knoxville, Tenn., with NCAA Regionals scheduled to take place May 19-21, followed by NCAA Super Regionals on May 26-29.
The Women’s College World Series runs from June 1-7 at OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City, Okla.