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Lions Open Up NCAA Action at UCLA

May 17, 2007

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The Loyola Marymount University softball team will be making its second NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend as it opens post-season action at the Los Angeles Regional. The Lions will take on the host Bruins on Friday at 5:00pm. Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara round out the four-team regional field. Game times on Saturday are 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 8:00pm for the double elimination regional. Sunday's games are at 2:30pm and 5:00pm. All games will be televised live on ESPNU. In addition, all LMU games will be broadcast live on Lions All-Access.

Lions Sweep PCSC Awards
For the first time ever, one school has swept the top PCSC awards. LMU made history when the conference announced the post-season awards. Freshman Christine Foley was named the Player of theYear, Tiffany Pagano was named the Pitcher of the Year for the second time in her career,and Gary Ferrin was named the Coach of the Year for the second time in three years. In addition, Melissa Dykema was named Freshman of the Year, sharing the award with two other rookies in a three-way tie. This marks the fourth time in the five years that a Lion has earned Player of the Year honors. Five LMU players earned first team honors - Foley, Pagano, Dykema, Kirsten Slouber and Kirsten Whitt. Four more Lions were named to the second team - Kylie Conroy, Tracy Cook, Megan Ackerman and Margo Pineda. MiaSarah Cesena earned honorable mention honors.

Coming In On a High Note
LMU enters the Los Angeles Regional on a 13 game winning streak and is the only team in the regional to have won its final game. The Lions' winning streak is one of the longest in the nation and is a school record. During the win streak, Megan Ackerman hit .500, Kirsten Slouber hit .469 with six doubles and Kirsten Whitt hit .455 with four home runs. In the circle, Tiffany Pagano had a 0.76 ERA with four shutouts in seven starts.

PCSC Champions
LMU has won three of the five PCSC titles since the conference's formation in 2003. The Lions won the inaugural title with a 14-5 conference mark. Santa Clara won the 2004 crown, but LMU took it back in 2005 with a 14-6 record. This was also the first time that the conference champion earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Lions played at the UCLA regional, falling to the host Bruins and UNLV. Portland State was the champion in 2006, but LMU went 18-2 to win the conference by a 6.5 game margin over second place Sacramento State. It was the most wins in PCSC history and the largest margin in the conference history. LMU was the first school to win the title prior to the final weekend of competition, wrapping up the 2007 championship with four games left to play.

Record Breaker
The final home weekend of the season against Saint Mary's was spectacular for Tiffany Pagano. In addition to pitching two shutouts, she broke three LMU records in the process. On Saturday, she broke the LMU career strikeout and shutout record. On Sunday, she broke her own single season strikeout record. For her efforts, she was named the PCSC Pitcher of the Week for the fifth time this season, and the 10th time in her career.

Lions Go Streaking
LMU finished the regular season on a 13-game winning streak, a new school record. Earlier in the season, the Lions tied the previous record with 12 straight wins. Over the final 37 games of the season, LMU went 32-5 with winning streaks of 12 and 13 games. The Lions hit .320 with 33 home runs, while allowing opponents to hit .192. LMU's pitchers combined for a 1.39 ERA with 12 shutouts.

Season Two at Smith Field
LMU's Smith Field continues to be a tremendous home field advantage for the Lions. In its second year, the Lions were an impressive 26-6 in the familiar confines. Several Lions excelled in front of the home crowd. Tiffany Pagano finished the 2007 with a 0.46 ERA at Smith Field, going 13-2 at home with nine shutouts. That 0.46 ERA was significantly lower than her overall ERA of 1.99. In addition, Kirsten Slouber hit well, batting a team-high .398 at home. As a team, LMU hit 31 of the its 44 home runs this year at home.

Free softball!!
LMU has played eight extra inning games this season, going 6-2 in those contests. The Lions have outscored their opponents 19-6 in extra innings this season.

Foley Breaks School Record
PCSC Player of the Year Christine Foley broke the LMU single season record for doubles in the final weekend of the regular season, hitting her 17th against Santa Clara. In addition, Foley's .411 batting average is on pace to break the single season batting average record of .410 set by Danielle Kaminaka in 2004.

Just the Numbers
Looking at the NCAA stats, it's clear to see why LMU was the top team in the PCSC. The Lions are ranked in the top 100 in almost every category - batting average (18th), doubles (18th), winning percentage (23rd), slugging percentage (29th), ERA (57th), scoring (44th), and home runs (56th). In addition, several individuals are ranked among the nation's finest. Christine Foley is 37th in batting average and 48th in doubles. Margo Pineda is 47th in batting average. Melissa Dykema is 19th in wins, while Tiffany Pagano is 54th in wins, 35th in strikeouts and 84th in ERA.

Gary Ferrin Reaches Win No. 450
With the final win against San Diego, April 1st, LMU head coach Gary Ferrin reached the 450 win mark. Now in his 13th season, Ferrin's career record stands at 465-334-1. He has the most wins of any LMU coach in any sport.

To Be The Best, You Need To Play The Best
LMU played 19 games against teams that were selected for the 2007 NCAA Tournament and earned 10 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), Cal State Fullerton (2-0) and a four game sweep over Canisius. Senior Margo Pineda excelled against the top opponents, hitting .421 with three home runs and 14 RBI. Christine Foley also hit well in those games, batting .340 with four doubles. Tiffany Pagano's ERA of 2.12 was the lowest on the Lion pitching sfaff. She struck out 59 batters in 56.0 innings. Melissa Dykema earned seven of the team's 10 wins in the circle and had 54 strikeouts in 55.2 innings.

The Regional Field
UCLA - The Bruins enter the regional with a 36-16 record, earning an at-large bid out of the Pac-10 Conference. UCLA finished third in the Pac-10 with a 12-9 conference mark. The Bruins are led by Krista Colburn who is batting .398 with seven home runs and nine doubles. Lisa Dodd leads the team in home runs with 13 and is batting .382. Senior Jodie Legaspi has hit 11 home runs with 12 doubles and 44 RBI. In the circle, Megan Langenfeld has a 13-2 record and a 1.35 ERA. Anjelica Selden has pitched a team-high 166.1 innings and has a 2.78 ERA to go along with a 17-10 record.

LMU and UCLA have seven common opponents this season. The Bruins were 6-2 against those teams, while LMU was 10-3.

Hawaii - The Rainbow Wahine is 46-9 overall and won the WAC regular season title with a 16-2 record. However, UH fell to Fresno State and Nevada in the WAC tournament. The Rainbow Wahine have hit the ball extremely well this season with a team batting average of .315 and 79 home runs. Tyleen Tausaga leads the team in hitting with a .406 average and a .738 slugging percentage. Clare Warwick is batting .390, and Kate Robinson leads the team in home runs with 18. Robinson also has the lowest ERA on the team at 1.56 with a perfect 15-0 record. Justine Smethurst has a 1.71 ERA with a 17-7 record and 159 strikeouts in 160.0 innings.

LMU and UH have six common opponents in 2007. The Rainbow Wahine was 8-1 against those teams, and LMU was 14-2.

UC Santa Barbara - The Gauchos are 30-21 overall, and finished in sixth place in the Big West with a 7-11 mark. Christine Ramos leads the team with a .358 batting average. Tisha Duran leasd the team in RBI with 33 and is batting .331. Jennifer Davis leads the Gauchos in the circle with a 1.35 ERA. She has six shutouts and 203 strikeouts in 191.1 innings this season.

The Lions and Gauchos had eight common opponents this season. LMU was 13-5 against those teams, and UCSB was 13-3.

LMU NCAA Tournament History
This is the second time that LMU softball is competiting in theNCAA Tournament. The Lions made their post-season debut during the 2005 season. LMU traveled to the UCLA regional as the #4 seed, falling to the Bruins in the opener 6-1 and UNLV in the first elimination game 6-1. Only four current Lions were on the 2005 squad - Tracy Cook, Tiffany Pagano, Margo Pineda and Kirsten Whitt. All four players saw action in both games, with each starting at least one game. Pagano was LMU's starting pitcher in both games.

Almost Worst to First
Despite a 29-24 record overall, the Lions struggled during the 2006 season, finishing fifth in the PCSC with a 9-11 record. It was LMU's worst record in four years of the PCSC, and the first time that it hadn't been one of the top two teams in the conference. The Lions returned eight starters this year, and with the addition of three key newcomers, LMU was back on top o f the conference again.

Preseason Coaches Poll
LMU was picked to finish third in the PCSC by the coaches in the preseason poll. Sacramento State was picked to win the title, with Portland State close behind in second place. LMU was third, followed by Santa Clara and San Diego tied for fourth. Saint Mary's was picked to finish sixth.

About the PCSC
The Pacific Coast Softball Conference was formed in 2003 with six schools - LMU, Santa Clara, Saint Mary's, San Diego, Sacramento State and Portland State. Although Loyola Marymount competes in the West Coast Conference in most sports, only four WCC institutions sponsor softball. Per PCSC rules, teams play a four game series over two days. On the first day, the host team plays as the home team. On the second day, the visiting team bats as the home team. LMU has won three of the five PCSC championships.

Walk-off wins
The Lions thrilled the fans at Smith Field all season, keeping the games exciting. The Lions ended things in dramatic walk-off fashion five times in 2007.Feb. 12 - LMU vs. Northern Colorado (Smith Field) Down 4-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Tracy Cook led off the inning with a single. Kylie Conroy followed with a two-run home run to tie the game, 4-4. Still tied heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Kirsten Slouber led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on an error. She moved to third on a sacrifice by MiaSarah Cesena and scored when the throw off of Tracy Cook's ground ball is not in time. LMU 5, Northern Colorado 4

Feb. 28 - LMU vs. UC Riverside (Smith Field) Lions and Highlanders needed extra innings to determine a winner in game one of the doubleheader. With the international tie breaker in effect, Megan Ackerman was placed at second base for LMU. The Lions needed just one batter to get the win, as Margo Pineda brought in the game-winning run with a single. LMU 3, UC Riverside 2

Mar. 10 - LMU vs. Tennessee-Martin (Smith Field) UTM took a 5-3 lead with four runs in the top of the fifth, but RBI hits by Margo Pineda and Kylie Conroy tied things up, 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Still tied heading into the bottom of the seventh, MiaSarah Cesena led off the inning with a single to left field. A single by Pineda and a fielder's choice by Conroy loaded the bases with no outs. A deep sacrifice fly by Tracy Cook to right field allowed Cesena to tag up and score the game-winning run. LMU 6, Tennessee-Martin 5

Mar. 27 - LMU vs. Cal State Fullerton (Smith Field) A tremendous pitcher's duel kept the game scoreless and forced extra innings. With the international tie breaker in effect, J.J. Hartung was placed at second base. She advanced to third on a sacrifice by Megan Ackerman. Chelsie Tysdal ended the game with a walk-off home run to left field. LMU 2, Cal State Fullerton 0

Apr. 21 - LMU vs. Portland State (Smith Field) Game one of the series between the last two PCSC champions was a thriller that was tied 1-1 after seven innings. Kirsten Whitt's solo home run in the fifth inning tied the game for LMU, and a solo home run by Tracy Cook with two outs in the bottom of the eighth gave the Lions the win. LMU 2, Portland State 1

Final Inning Wins
LMU won several tight games in the final inning when playing as the visiting team as well.Feb. 24 - LMU vs. Maryland (Palm Springs Tournament) The Terrapins had a 6-3 lead after five innings, but the Lions scored once in the sixth to make it a 6-4 game, and a two-RBI triple with two outs by Kylie Conroy tied the game and forced extra innings. With a runner at second base in the top of the ninth, MiaSarah Cesena legged out a bunt single to put runners at the corners. Kirsten Slouber's RBI single gave LMU its first lead of the game, but the Lions weren't done. Two batters later, Margo Pineda tripled to right field, driving in two runs to add insurance runs. Melissa Dykema pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the win. LMU 9, Maryland 6

Mar. 4 - LMU vs. UC Riverside (San Diego Tournament) It would be the third time that the teams met in 2007, and the third time they would need extra innings to determine a winner. Tied 2-2 after seven innings, the international tie breaker was in effect and Tracy Cook was placed at second base. Megan Ackerman led off with a sacrifice bunt and Christine Foley gave the Lions the lead with a single through the left side of the infield. Melissa Dykema pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth to pick up the win. LMU 3, UC Riverside 2

Mar. 25 - LMU vs. UC Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA) Down 3-1 heading into the seventh inning, the Lions mounted an incredible comeback. Kylie Conroy led off with a single and advanced to second on an error. Down to their final out, LMU began its comeback. An infield single by Megan Ackerman brought home Conroy and made it a 3-2 game. Chelsie Tysdal tied the game with an RBI double, scoring Ackerman. Pinch runner J.J. Hartung replaced Tysdal on the base path, scoring the game-winning run on an RBI single by Kirsten Whitt to put the Lions up, 4-3. Melissa Dykema pitched a scoreless seventh inning to preserve the win. LMU 4, UC Santa Barbara 3

Apr. 16 - LMU vs. Sacramento State (Sacramento, CA) After playing a tripleheader on Sunday due to a rainout on Saturday, the Lions and the Hornets wrapped up the series with one game on Monday. Sac State led 6-3 heading into the top of the seventh inning, but LMU was a veteran comeback team by now. J.J. Hartung earned a walk to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a double by Kirsten Slouber. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, cutting the lead to 6-4. MiaSarah Cesena earned a walk to put runners at the corners. Margo Pineda's RBI single made it a one run game, 6-5. Kylie Conroy walked to load the bases with no outs. A strikeout later, and freshman Christine Foley wrapped up her monster weekend with the most important hit of the day. Her single to left field scored two runners and gave LMU a 7-6 lead. Tiffany Pagano forced three straight groundouts in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the PCSC win. LMU 7, Sacramento State 6

Apr 22 - LMU vs. Portland State (Smith Field) Per PCSC rules, LMU (the host team) played as the visiting team in Sunday's doubleheader with Portland State. The Vikings took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but a two-run home run by Kirsten Slouber tied things up, and a solo home run by Megan Ackerman in the fourth gave LMU a 3-2 lead. The Vikings tied it up with solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. The game remained tied heading into the top of the seventh inning. Kirsten Slouber led off with a single up the middle and came around to score on MiaSarah Cesena's RBI triple. Melissa Dykema struck out three batters in the bottom of the seventh for the victory. LMU 4, Portland State 3

Rallying for a Win
LMU has won 15 games when trailing or tied after the fifth inning. Here's a look at those wins.

Feb. 10 - LMU vs. Southern Utah - Tied 0-0 after seven innings, LMU wins 8-1 in 8 innings

Feb. 12 - LMU vs. Northern Colorado - Down 4-2 after five innings, LMU scores twice in the sixth and once in the seventh, LMU wins 5-4.

Feb. 22 - LMU vs. BYU - Tied 3-3 after five innings, LMU broke the tie with a solo home run by Tracy Cook in the sixth, and added four insurance runs in the seventh inning, LMU wins 8-3

Feb. 24 - LMU vs. Long Island - Christine Foley brings home the tying run in the fourth to make it a 1-1 game. She gives the Lions the lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, LMU wins 2-1.

Feb. 28 - LMU vs. UC Riverside - Tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth, Margo Pineda drives in the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth, LMU wins 3-2 in 8 innings.

Mar. 4 - LMU vs. UC Riverside - Same team, different location. Playing the Highlanders for the third time in a week, it was Christine Foley with the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth, LMU wins 3-2 in 8 innings.

Mar. 10 - LMU vs. Tennessee-Martin - Tied 5-5 after five innings, the Lions loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and Tracy Cook's sacrifice fly ended the game, LMU wins 6-5.

Mar. 21 - LMU vs. Ohio State - Down 2-1 heading into the sixth inning, back to back RBI hits by Christine Foley and Megan Ackerman give the Lions their first lead of the day, LMU wins 3-2.

Mar. 25 - LMU vs. UC Santa Barbara - Behind 3-1 heading into the seventh, the Lions were down to their final out before going on a three-run rally, LMU wins 4-3.

Mar. 27 - LMU vs. Cal State Fullerton - A pitcher's duel featuring Tiffany Pagano forced extra innings, and Chelsie Tysdal's two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth gave the Lions the walk off victory, LMU wins 2-0 in 8 innings.

Apr. 16 - LMU vs. Sacramento State - Down 6-3 heading into the top of the seventh, the Lions score four runs in the final inning for the victory, LMU wins 7-6.

Apr. 21 - LMU vs. Portland State - Kirsten Whitt's solo home run in the bottom of the fifth tied things at 1-1. Tracy Cook ended things with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, LMU wins 2-1.

Apr. 22 - LMU vs. Portland State - Tied 3-3 going into the seventh, Kirsten Slouber scores on MiaSarah Cesena's RBI triple in the top of the seventh, LMU wins 4-3.

May 5 -LMU vs. Santa Clara - Down 1-0 headed into the top of the sixth inning, Kirsten Slouber leads off the inning with a single, setting the stage for Christine Foley's two-run home run, LMU wins 2-1.