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Lions Face Nation's Toughest This Week

Feb. 20, 2007

Briefly... The LMU softball will face its toughest test of the season this week when it takes on the nation's top teams over a seven game stretch. The Lions will begin the week with a doubleheader at home against Hawaii on Wednesday at noon, before playing five games at the Palm Springs Classic. Opponents in Palm Springs include #1 Tennessee and #10 Oklahoma. The Lions are 9-3 on the season and have won six of their last seven games.

Lions Earn PCSC Honors... LMU swept the PCSC honors this week with Christine Foley earning her first PCSC Player of the Week nod, and Tiffany Pagano making it two straight for LMU with Pitcher of the Week accolades.

A Look Back... The Lions went 4-1 at last weekend's Troy Cox Classic, hosted by New Mexico State. The team extended its winning streak to six games after winning the first four games of the tournament, but fell to the tournament hosts in the finale.

The LMU bats were on fire at the tournament, as the team hit a combined .420 overall. The Lions outscored their opponents 40-18, including two run-rule wins. LMU began the tournament with a pair of 5-3 win over Buffalo and Central Michigan, and then got things rolling against a pair of schools from Texas. In the team's only game of the day on Saturday, LMU used 17 hits to defeat UTEP 11-0 in six innings. The Lions followed that up with a 13-4 five-inning win over Texas-Arlington on Sunday. The only blemish for the weekend was an 8-6 loss to New Mexico State. The Lions had the winning run at the plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn't convert.

Christine Foley and Margo Pineda stood out for the Lions. Both were named to the All-Tournament team after outstanding performances. The freshman first baseman hit .611 with 10 RBI and four doubles. She had multiple hits in four of the five games of the tournament. The senior captain hit .588 with seven runs scored. She had a hit in all five games, with three multi-hit games. She also had two outfield assists from her new position in right field.

Kirsten Slouber heated up after a slow start to the season and hit .421 at the tournament. She had five doubles, including four on Sunday. She also hit her first home run of the season and finished with seven RBI.

MiaSarah Cesena, Kylie Conroy, Tiffany Gonzales, Chelsie Tysdal and Tracy Cook all hit above .300 for the weekend.

About Hawaii... The Rainbow Wahine are 10-2 on the season coming into Wednesday's doubleheader. Hawaii is the top team in the "others receiving votes" section of the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll this week. Claire Warwich leads the team in hitting with a .514 average. Hawaii has four starters hitting over .360, and the team is batting .289. Hawaii has a 1.75 team ERA, led by Jessica Morton's 0.53 ERA. She has made six appearances, all in relief. Justin Smethurst has a 1.42 ERA with three complete games.

The Palm Springs Classic... The Lions will face several of the nation's top teams at the Palm Springs Classic this weekend. It is the second time in three years that LMU has been invited to be a part of the prestigious tournament. In 2005, the Lions recorded a win over Notre Dame.

LMU's Schedule of Games
Thursday, February 22 - LMU vs. BYU, 5:30pm - Wrigley Field
Thursday, February 22 - LMU vs. #1 Tennessee, 8:00pm - Wrigley Field
Friday, February 23 - LMU vs. #10 Oklahoma, 1:00pm - Pawtucket Field
Saturday, February 24 - LMU vs. Long Island, 10:00am - Pawtucket Field
Saturday, February 24 - LMU vs. Maryland, 8:00pm - Pawtucket Field

A Look at the Teams...
The Cougars are 8-2 this season. LMU and BYU faced each other in the opening weekend of the year at the BYU/UVSC Red Desert Classic, with the Cougars taking a 7-3 victory. Jennifer Whiteley leads the team in batting with a .520 average. She has three doubles on the year. BYU has five starters hitting over .324 and the team has 19 home runs in 10 games. Christie Zinanti leads BYU with a 1.96 ERA. She has 19 strikeouts in 25.0 innings.

Tennessee... The Lady Volunteers are a perfect 9-0 on the year and ranked No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll this week. UT features one of the nation's top pitchers in Monica Abbott. The standout has 100 strikeouts in 39.0 innings so far this year. She has allowed just three hits and one unearned run. She has seven of the team's wins. The Lady Vols also have a potent offense with five starters hitting over .400. Jennifer Griffin leads the way with a .667 average and a 1.143 slugging percentage.

Oklahoma... The Sooners are a perfect 10-0 on the year and ranked No. 10 in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. OU is hitting .360 as a team and has a 1.63 team ERA. Leading the way at the plate is Norrelle Dickson with a .433 batting average. She has scored 15 runs in 10 games this season. In the circle, Lauren Eckerman has a 1.37 ERA, and has a 6-0 record.

Long Island... The Blackbirds are 2-3 this season after opening the year at the Florida Atlantic Dunkin' Donuts Classic. Randi Gillespie leads the team with a .571 average. Jenny Giles has three complete games with a 2.92 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 24.0 innings.

Maryland... The Terrapins are 3-2 after the opening weekend at the Florida Atlantic Dunkin' Donuts Classic. Both of Maryland's losses were to Michigan. Amber Jackson leads the way for UM with a .333 average and four home runs in five games. Meredith Nelles has a 1.53 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. One of Maryland's wins last weekend was a 4-1 victory over Long Island.

Looking Ahead... The tough schedule continues next week when the Lions will play seven games in six days. LMU opens the week with a single game at No. 14 UCLA on Tuesday, February 27th, and hosts UC Riverside in a doubleheader at Smith Field on Wednesday, February 28th. The Lions will travel to San Diego to play four games in the University of San Diego Tournament on Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4.