May 10, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- Sometimes success is less a story of where you stand in relation to others than how you got to where you are.
On the strength of a 13-game win streak to close the regular season, Loyola Marymount is going to the NCAA Tournament as champion of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. The Lions finished the regular season with a school-record 45 wins and an 18-2 conference mark that put them seven games clear of their closest competition in the league. Outside of the low-profile PCSC, they earned wins against Big Ten champ Ohio State and Big West power Cal State Fullerton and challenged themselves in losses against national powers Tennessee, Oklahoma, UCLA and Hawaii. They have a pitcher with 220 strikeouts in 182.2 innings in senior Tiffany Pagano and two .400 hitters in freshman Christine Foley and senior Margo Pineda.
In other words, while this team from a corner of SoCal paradise may play the role of plucky underdogs in what comes next, it's hardly unqualified for postseason competition.
And yet what happens against the likes of UCLA and other potential regional powers during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is ultimately less compelling than how the Lions -- collectively as a mid-major program and individually -- reached the peak of college softball they now inherit.
Earning a place in the NCAA Tournament didn't make Loyola Marymount a success story; the Lions are in the NCAA Tournament because they were already a success story.
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