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PCSC Title Hunt Begins on Saturday

March 29, 2007

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The LMU softball team begins its journey to winning a Pacific Coast Softball Conference title this weekend when it hosts San Diego in doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Smith Field. Saturday's games begin at 11:00am, and Sunday's doubleheader starts at noon. The Lions are 27-14 on the season and have played well against tough competition over the last few weeks to prepare for conference play.

Non-Conference Wrap Up
The Lions finished non-conference action with a 27-14 record, including a 12-game winning streak. Highlights of non-conference play include:
* Kirsten Slouber had a 17 game hitting streak.
* Pitchers Tiffany Pagano and Melissa Dykema have already put themselves in the LMU top 6 for single season strikeouts.
* LMU recorded five doubleheader sweeps and was swept in a doubleheader just once.
* The Lions went 3-2 at the prestigious Palm Springs Classic.
* LMU knows how to win the close ones, going 8-3 in one-run games.
* Similarly, the Lions know how to come from behind and have won four games when trailing after the fifth inning.
* Extra-inning games don't bother the Lions. LMU is 5-1 in extra inning contests.
* Margo Pineda continues to dominate and is batting .445 on the season. The senior leads the conference with the highest batting average. Only one other player is hitting over .400.

To Be The Best, You Need To Play The Best
LMU played 13 games against teams that participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and earned six wins in the process. The Lions recorded wins against Southern Utah (8-1), BYU (8-3), Long Island (2-1), Ohio State (3-2), UC Santa Barbara (4-3) and Cal State Fullerton (2-0). Senior Margo Pineda excelled against the top opponents, hitting .410 with two home runs and eight RBI. Christine Foley also hit well in those games, batting .324 with four doubles. Melissa Dykema's ERA of 2.10 against 2006 Tournament teams is actually lower than her overall ERA of 2.54. Dykema earned five of the team's six wins against 2006 Tournament teams.

Looking Back
The Lions split a doubleheader with Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday. Tiffany Pagano pitched a one-hit shutout to set the stage for Chelsie Tysdal's walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth to lead the Lions to a 2-0 win. The Titans got the game two win, 10-3.

Conference Openers
LMU is 10-6 all-time in PCSC opening weekends. Last season, the Lions split both days with Sacramento State, earning wins in game one before falling in game two. Two years ago, LMU won the first three games against Portland State before falling in the series finale.

Pagano Climbs the Charts
Tiffany Pagano had two outstanding seasons with LMU and she continues to shine. In fact, the junior has moved into the LMU career top-5 for several pitching categories, including career wins, strikeouts and shutouts. Pagano is closing in on the LMU career record for strikeouts and needs just 53 more to break the record. She currently holds the LMU single season record for strikeouts.

Foley Doubles Down
Freshman Christine Foley has hit 13 doubles this season and has moved into the LMU top-5 for single season doubles. The freshman is having an outstanding rookie season, hitting .396 with two home runs and 21 RBI.

Awards Recap
After seven weeks of softball action, the Lions have accumulated several awards. LMU's pitching staff has dominated the PCSC Pitcher of the Week award, with Tiffany Pagano and Melissa Dykema winning the award twice each. In addition, Margo Pineda and Christine Foley have also earned the PCSC Player of the Week honor. Those two were named to the New Mexico State All-Tournament team as well.

About San Diego
USD enters conference play with a 16-13 record and is coming in on a four-game winning streak. LMU and USD have several common opponents this season, with the Lions going 7-3 against those opponents and the Toreros going 3-5. San Diego and LMU are the only two PCSC teams with winning records at this point. The Toreros are led by Virginia Fritsch who is batting .351 with six doubles and one home run. Danielle Treiber is hitting .337 with a team-high three home runs, and Nichole Valenzuela leads the team with nine doubles. USD has a team batting average of .276. In the circle, Jennifer Ellenbeck has a team-best 7-3 record with a team-low 2.27 ERA. Christina Haake has a 2.56 ERA and a 6-4 record.

Looking Ahead
The Lions will take next weekend off for the Easter Holiday and return to action on April 14th against Sacramento State in Sacramento. The Lions return to Smith Field on April 21st to host Portland State.