Jan. 24, 2008
Defending Pacific Coast Softball Conference champion Loyola Marymount received eight votes to finish 13th among "Others Receiving Votes", translating to a ranking of 38th in the preseason NFCA Top 25 poll, released Wednesday. The Lions claimed their third PCSC tile in five seasons in 2007 and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional, hosted by UCLA.
The Lions return 13 letterwinners and six starters from last year's squad that finished 47-18 overall, and 18-2 in the PCSC. Earlier in the month, LMU was tabbed to repeat as conference champions in 2008 by the league's six head coaches.
LMU returns all three players that earned PCSC Player of the Year awards in 2007. Senior right-hander Tiffany Pagano went 21-10 with a 1.99 ERA and tossed 10 shutouts en route to being an unanimous choice for the PCSC Pitcher of the Year. Sophomore right-hander Melissa Dykema recorded a 26-7 ledger with a 2.26 ERA and was one of three players to split the PCSC's Freshman of the Year honor. Sophomore first baseman Christine Foley was named the PCSC Player of the Year after hitting .416 with five HRs and 37 RBI.
The Lions also bring back four more All-PCSC performers. Junior outfielder Kirsten Slouber hit .328 with five HRs and 29 RBI and garnered first team All-PCSC honors in 2007. Junior infielder Megan Ackerman was named to the second team for the second straight season after hitting .298 with 39 RBI and a team-leading nine home runs. She was joined on the second team by senior Tracy Cook, who led the league in fielding percentage by a third baseman at .982 while turning in a .242 batting average, six home runs, and 30 RBI. Junior outfielder MiaSarah Cesena rounds out the returning award winners after hitting .280 (.319 in PCSC play) to gain honorable mention status.
PCSC Coach of the Year Gary Ferrin will be in his 14th season at the helm of the Lions. He enters the 2008 season having compiled a 467-336-1 record, a .581 winning pct. The Lions have claimed the PCSC Championship three of the last five years under his guidance, winning in 2003, 2005, and 2007.
Two-time defending national champion Arizona earned 27-of-29 first-place votes and is the preseason No. 1 in the NFCA poll. The Wildcats went 50-14 last season. Texas A&M (46-14), Arizona State (54-17), Alabama (55-10) and Oklahoma (55-8) round out the top five. Tennessee (63-8) and UCLA (37-18) garnered the other two first-place votes. The Lady Volunteers are preseason No. 6 and the Bruins are No. 14.
LMU is the first PCSC team scheduled to open play in 2008, when the Lions face Southern Utah on Thursday, Feb. 7 in St. George, UT at the Red Desert Classic. The Lions' 2008 schedule features five opponents who are either ranked or receiving votes in this year's preseason poll.