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Lions Return To San Diego For Aztec Classic

Feb. 28, 2006

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The Lions head back down to San Diego for the Aztec Classic this weekend. The field consists of several of the top teams in the nation including #23 Fresno State and Oregon. San Diego State and Cal State Northridge round out the tournament field. LMU will play five games over the three day tournament.

The Tournament Field
The tournament field is impressive and will be some of the toughest competition that LMU will face this year. The Lions have a challenging first day, taking on Oregon in the tournament opener. The Ducks are 9-7 on the year and were ranked #22 in last week's USA Today/NFCA poll. They picked up a win over #8 Texas A&M last weekend at the Palm Springs Classic. Fresno State is ranked #23 in this week's ESPN/USA Softball poll with a 9-7 record. The Bulldogs recorded a win over #10 Oklahoma last week in Palm Springs. Cal State Northridge is 5-5 and has won four straight games. San Diego State is 9-3 after going 4-1 at last weekend's Aztec Invitational. LMU and San Diego State did not meet in last weekend's tournament.

Looking Back
LMU went 3-2 at the Aztec Invitational last weekend, splitting on Friday and Sunday, and winning the only game on Saturday. Hillaree Bennett and Margo Pineda were offensive sparks for the Lions, with each hitting above .500 for the tournament. Bennett hit a grand slam and a two-run home run to finish with six RBI in LMU's 7-2 win over Indiana State. Colorado State's pitching was too tough for the Lions who fell to the Rams, 2-0. LMU rebounded with a 6-2 win over Wagner. Bennett and Pineda were each 3-for-4 at the plate, and Bennett drove in three runs. The Lions got their second straight win with a 7-1 victory over Kentucky. Pagano allowed just one run on three hits, and allowed just one hit after the first inning. Bennett hit a three-run home run against the Wildcats. Taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, LMU struggled against Western Kentucky, and took a 6-2 loss to complete the tournament. Bennett drove in both runs and hit her fourth homer of the weekend.

Bennett Named PCSC Player of the Week
Hillaree Bennett was named the PCSC Player of the Week for her performance at the Aztec Invitational. The outfielder from Visalia, CA, hit .529 over five games at the Aztec Invitational with four home runs and 15 RBI. Her slugging percentage for the weekend was an impressive 1.294 with an on-base percentage of .556. Bennett recorded a hit in every game of the tournament, and now has an eight game hitting streak. Just as impressive, she struck out just two times in the tournament.

Looking Ahead
The Lions will get a chance to finally play in their brand new home, Smith Field, when they host the LMU Tournament next week. LMU will host the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday in a doubleheader, and host a doubleheader with Mercer on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, Virginia, Cal State Northridge, and Loyola-Chicago join LMU and Penn for four games each day. LMU wraps up with tournament with a doubleheader against Loyola-Chicago on Saturday.