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Softball Season Begins This Weekend

Feb. 8, 2007

Briefly... The LMU softball team kicks off the 2007 season this weekend at the BYU/UVSC Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. The Lions will play five games starting on Thursday. Opponents include 2006 NCAA Tournament teams BYU and Southern Utah.

Tournament Schedule...
Thursday, February 8, 2007 - LMU vs. Dixie State, 3:00pm
Friday, February 9, 2007 - LMU vs. Utah Valley State College, 12:30pm
Friday, February 9, 2007 - LMU vs. Idaho State, 3:00pm
Saturday, February 10, 2007 - LMU vs. Southern Utah, 10:00am
Saturday, February 10, 2007 - LMU vs. BYU, 3:00pm
All times pacific. Games are being played at the Snow Canyon Complex, St. George, Utah.

About LMU... The Lions are coming off of their eighth straight winning season, finishing with a 29-24 record in 2006. LMU is young, but experienced, returning nine players that started at least 27 games last season.

Leading the way is senior Margo Pineda. The 2005 PCSC Player of the Year and two-time first team All-PCSC selection will move from her spot at second base to the outfield this season. Pineda hit .325 last season with four home runs and nine doubles.

Also returning is standout pitcher Tiffany Pagano. The 2005 PCSC Pitcher of the Year handled most of the load last season, setting the LMU single season record for strikeouts with 205. She finished with 14 wins last year and a 2.23 ERA.

Second team All-PCSC performers Tracy Cook and Megan Ackerman are back in the infield for the Lions, although they will both be at different positions. Cook will move from first base to third base, and Ackerman will shift over from third base to shortstop.

Catchers Darcy Pagnini and Chelsie Tysdal return to anchor the catching corps after combining to start all 53 games behind the plate last season as freshmen.

Several new faces join the infield this season. Senior Kylie Conroy transfers to LMU after playing three seasons at Baylor. She will move into the second baseman spot and help bring experience and leadership to the Lion infield. Freshman Christine Foley will take over at first base. Freshman Emma May will provide backup to Foley.

The faces in the outfield are familiar to Lion fans, but they will be in different positions this year. Senior Kirsten Whitt will move from right field to left field after starting 46 games last season. Sophomore Kirsten Slouber is coming off of an outstanding freshman season that saw her hit .328 with six home runs with 22 RBI as the team's leadoff batter. She led the Lions with 40 runs scored.

Pineda moves from second base to right field to round out the LMU outfield. Close behind is sophomore MiaSarah Cesena. After starting all 53 games at shortstop last season, Cesena moved to the outfield in the fall and will provide depth in any of the outfield spots.

Also providing depth in the outfield are freshmen Tiffany Gonzales and Gia Longo.

Pitching will be a strength for LMU as the Lions feature three outstanding players in the circle. Leading the way is junior Pagano. She has experience as the team's top pitcher the last two seasons. She is joined by freshmen Melissa Dykema and Gonzales. Dykema comes to LMU after an outstanding high school career, and brings size and speed to the circle. Gonzales gives the LMU pitching staff a different look with movement and placement.

The Lions will begin their season in Utah before returning to Smith Field for their home opener on Monday, February 12th against Northern Colorado for a doubleheader starting at noon.

A Look At the Opponents...
Dixie State... The Rebels begin their first season of Division II softball after previously playing at the junior college level. Dixie State made two NJCAA tournament appearances, and recorded several wins over Division I programs during the fall.
Utah Valley State... The Wolverines were 15-36 in 2006. The squad features five returning players and 12 incoming freshmen and transfers.
Idaho State... This is the first season of softball since 1983.
Southern Utah... Southern Utah participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament after winning the Mid-Continent Conference. The team had a 34-32 record last season.
BYU...The Cougars were 43-22 a year ago, and advanced to the 2006 NCAA Tournament. They return seven starters from last season.

A Look Ahead...LMU will open its 2007 home schedule on Monday when it hosts Northern Colorado at noon. The team will then head to New Mexico State for the Troy Cox Classic starting on Friday, February 16th. LMU will play five games in the tournament.