#25 Texas A&M Softball 2016 Preview

Texas A&M Aggies
Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #9 SEC
 Texas A&M Logo
Texas A&M had a ton of youth and inexperience in 2015 and to still get to the postseason and win 40 games under the direction of Hall of Fame Head Coach Jo Evans was an impressive feat. The Aggies fell short in the NCAA Tournament to number 11 seed Oklahoma, but laid the foundation for a big season in 2016 especially if the pitching can come together.
2015: 40-20, 12-12
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jo Evans
Field Players:
Super sophomore infielder Tori Vidales will lead an offense that has a great deal of potential. Vidales led the team in hitting with a .368 batting average, while hitting 20 homeruns with 56 runs batted in. Senior catcher/outfielder Cali Lanphear provides critical leadership and versatility along with an ability to combine power and speed. Lanphear hit nine homeruns, drove in 41 runs and stole eight bases in nine attempts. If Lanphear can hit at least ten homeruns and boost her stolen base total over ten as well, that will be a nice boost to the Aggies offensive attack.
Senior Katie Marks will look to take over the number one slot in the pitching rotation with the graduation of Rachel Fox. Marks is a bit of more of a pitch to contact type of pitcher as she only struck out 61 batters in 116.2 innings while winning 14 games. The other key for Marks in 2016 will be to continue to make batters put the ball in play and limit the walks like she did last season. Opposing batters only walked 34 times against Marks and were only able to muster a .227 batting average. Look for Abby Donnell, Trinity Harrington and Kayla Ober to get some more work in the circle this season to take some pressure off of Marks.
Who to Watch:
The combination of Kristen Cuyos and Breanna Dozier will be key complimentary elements to the Texas A&M lineup. The duo combined for 19 homeruns and 50 runs batted in. If the batting average can be increased by about 15-20 points for both Cuyos and Dozier, then the Aggies will have an excellent chance to boost run production up towards 375-400 runs this season. Also, keep an eye on April Ryan, who had a very consistent sophomore season by starting all 60 games and was very productive with seven homeruns and 38 runs batted in.
Final Projection:
Texas A&M usually plays a very challenging schedule leading into conference play and this season will bring more of the same. UCLA visits during the opening weekend of the season at the Aggie Softball Complex so the pitching will get a great test against an explosive Bruins lineup. Washington, Arizona, San Diego State and Pittsburgh will also provide great preparation for grueling conference slate. The conference schedule will be tough but several key series will be in College Station as LSU, Alabama and Florida all come to College Station. There are trips to Georgia. Series with Missouri, Tennessee and Auburn are on the docket for the Aggies as well. This could be very well be one of those seasons where the record could be about the same as last year for Texas A&M despite having a more experienced team across the board.
Projected Postseason:  NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: April Ryan, IF/OF, 186
Hits: Tori Vidales, IF, 64
Home Runs: Tori Vidales, IF, 20
RBIs: Tori Vidales, IF, 56
Runs: Tori Vidales, IF, 51
Stolen Bases: Cali Lanphear, C/OF, 9
Wins: Katie Marks, P, 14
Innings Pitched: Katie Marks, P, 116.2
Strikeouts: Katie Marks, P, 61
Complete Games: Katie Marks, P, 10
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#21 Samatha Show
#22 Kaitlyn Alderink
#32 Riley Sartain