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Conference Play Opens With a Celebration

April 5, 2006

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Briefly
Rain has given LMU an extended break in the middle of the season, but the Lions begin the second half of the season this Saturday when they host Sacramento State for their first weekend of PCSC action. The Lions and the Hornets were picked as the top two teams in the preseason poll, and this weekend's four game series should play a critical role in determining the conference champion.

Saturday Celebration
This Saturday, LMU Softball will welcome its alumnae back to campus for a celebration of the new home of LMU Softball, Smith Field. A barbecue will be held in between games for the alumnae and family members. Also, the members of the 2005 PCSC Championship team will receive their rings in a ceremony following the first game of the doubleheader.

Title Defense
LMU won the 2005 PCSC title, earning the program's first berth into the NCAA Tournament. The team played the toughest schedule in school history, facing off against several national powerhouses. The Lions finished the season with a 34-20 record, and dominated the post-season honors. LMU earned the PCSC Player, Pitcher and Coach of the Year honors with a 16-4 conference record. The Lions lose 11 players from that championship team, but are still picked to win the conference in the preseason poll.

This Week's Opponent
Sacramento State enters conference play on a roll, having won 14 of its last 17 games to move to 19-12 on the season. Lindy Winkler leads the team and the conference, hitting .406 on the season. Hilary Johnson is hittibng .341 and Jamie Schloredt leads the team with four home runs. In the circle, the Hornets are led by Nikki Cinque with a 1.51 ERA and Cassie Cervantes who has 110 strikeouts in 55.1 innings this season.

Looking Back
The Lions haven't seen the field since March 22nd as rain has interfered with the schedule for the last two weeks. Doubleheaders with Big West rivals UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton have been postponed due to rain, and no makeup date has been set for either doubleheader yet.

Statistically Speaking
This weekend's series with Sacramento State should play a large role in the race for the PCSC title. Last year, the championship was decided in the final series between the Lions and the Hornets. This year, the Lions and the Hornets are predicted to be the top two teams in the conference again. A look at the non-conference statistics predict another tight race. Sac State has the highest batting average in the conference at .284, while the Lions are hitting .275. LMU has the lowest ERA in the conference at 2.10, and the Hornets have a 2.67 ERA. SAC's Lindy Winkler leads the conference in batting average, and LMU's Hillaree Bennett leads the conference in home runs at 10. SAC's Nikki Cinque and LMU's Tiffany Pagano are tied with a 1.51 ERA, the lowest for starting pitchers in the conference. Pagano also leads the conference in strikeouts with 136.

Looking Ahead
LMU continues PCSC action next week, traveling to Portland State for a pair of doubleheaders on Friday, April 14th and Saturday, April 15th. LMU will be on the road for the next two weekends before wrapping up home play against Santa Clara on April 29th and 30th.