Feb. 5, 2009
Complete Release in PDF Format
Thursday-Saturday, February 5-7
Red Desert Classic - St. George, UT
Thursday, February 5
LMU vs. BYU - 5:00 p.m.
Friday, February 6
LMU vs. Utah State - 1:00 p.m.
LMU vs. Utah - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 7
LMU vs. Utah Valley - 11:00 a.m.
LMU vs. #15/#21 Washington - 1:30 p.m.
If it's the first weekend in February, then that means that softball season is around the corner and Loyola Marymount will be heading to St. George, UT for the Red Desert Classic. The annual season tip-off, LMU will be making its third straight appearance at the classic, playing five games in three days.
Follow The Lions Live On The Web!
All LMU home games will be available for fans on Gametracker through the LMU website at www.LMULions.com. Select road contests can also be followed on Gametracker. Notice will be given for these games.
LMU in the Red Desert Classic
For the third consecutive season, the Lions will be opening the year in St. George at the Red Desert Classic. They have had quite a bit of success each year, going 3-2 in 2007 and 4-1 in 2008. Two of their 2009 foes will be familiar ones, as LMU has played BYU and Utah Valley in every tournament, beating Utah Valley twice and losing to BYU twice. The Lions will see Utah Valley once more, at the Courtyard by Marriott L.A. Westside Classic at Smith Field on March 6.
LMU opens the season on Thursday in an evening affair against BYU. The Cougars will already have a game under their belts by the time they take the field vs. LMU, having played Southern Utah earlier in the day. BYU opens the year receiving votes in the 2009 USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll. Last year, BYU went 44-20 overall, placing second in the Mountain West Conference with a 14-6 record and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. BYU leads the all-time series 5-2, having won four of the last five meetings.
About Utah State
Utah State plays its first game of the season on Friday against #12 Tennessee, who LMU will face on February 19 at the Cathedral City Classic. The Aggies went 14-34 last year, placing seventh in the Western Athletic Conference with a 2-15 mark. LMU has beaten USU in all three historical meetings, with the last coming in 2002.
The Lions will have played an extra game when they face Utah, as the Utes commence their season on Friday afternoon against San Jose State. In 2008, Utah was 28-27 overall and 10-10 in the Mountain West Conference, finishing third. These teams have not played each other since 2004, when Utah came away with a 10-9 victory in extra innings. It was Utah's sixth win in seven all-time meetings.
About Utah Valley
A future familiar face to LMU, Utah Valley gets its 2009 season underway against Southern Utah before challenging the Lions. UVU is independent of any conference this year but will be joining the Pacific Coast Softball Conference in 2010 when it expands from six to 12 teams. Last year, the Wolverines had a 17-34 record. This will be the third straight season that LMU will play Utah Valley, with all the games coming at the Red Desert Classic. The Lions won both, 6-1 in 2007 and 3-2 last year.
About #15/#21 Washington
The first of two Pac-10 schools on LMU's schedule, Washington is also one of three teams in the preseason USA Today/NFCA poll that the Lions will face in 2009. The Huskies are coming off a season in which they went 30-25-1, tying for fifth in conference play at 7-14, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. They were receiving votes in the final poll of 2008 and enter 2009 ranked 15th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings and 21st in the USA Today/NFCA Poll. This will be the first meeting between LMU and Washington since 1997 and just the third one ever. UW has won both.
LMU Schedule a Tough One
The 2009 LMU schedule looks to be a tough one as LMU will find itself matching up against three teams in the preseason top-25, eight in the top-50, and a further eight teams that made the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Lions will play in six tournaments, including two in which it will serve as host.
LMU In Season Openers
LMU is 9-14 all-time in season openers but 7-7 since Gary Ferrin took over as head coach in 1995. The Lions' 3-2, 12-inning victory over Southern Utah last year snapped a three-game losing streak in season openers.
Ferrin Reaches 500
Already the most successful coach in LMU softball history, Gary Ferrin notched another personal milestone last season as he recorded his 500th career victory. Now in his 15th season, Ferrin has led the Lions to winning campaigns 12 times, including 40+ wins three times and 30+ victories 11 times. They have won three PCSC titles under Ferrin and made two NCAA postseason appearances. A list of Ferrin's milestone victories:
#1 - February 19, 1994; 2-0 vs. Santa Clara
#100 - April 13, 1997; 1-0 vs. Santa Clara
#200 - April 8, 2000; 3-0 vs. San Diego
#300 - March 26, 2003; 8-2 at UC Riverside
#400 - March 8, 2006; 3-1 vs. Mercer
#500 - May 3, 2008; 5-3 at Saint Mary's
PCSC Coaches Pick LMU Second
The Pacific Coast Softball Conference coaches have tabbed LMU to finish second in 2009, according to the preseason coaches poll. The six PCSC coaches voted defending champions Sacramento State first, edging LMU by two points. Both LMU and Sacramento State received two first-place votes each. Portland State and Santa Clara each received the remaining first-place votes. Sacramento State garnered 31 total points, with LMU right behind on 29. Saint Mary's was picked third with 21 points, with Portland State fourth with 20. San Diego (14 points) and Santa Clara (11) round out the poll.
Defending Their Turf
LMU went 20-7 in 2008 at Smith Field, the second straight season that the Lions had won 20 games at home and just the third time in history that they had reached that mark. Since Smith Field opened in 2006, the Lions have gone 62-21 at home for a .747 winning percentage. LMU will play 25 home games in 2009.
In 2008, LMU reached 35 victories for the second straight season, the fifth time that has happened in school history. Ferrin led the Lions to back-to-back 35-win campaigns in 1996-97 and then four straight such seasons from 1999-2002.
PCSC to Expand in 2010
A six-team conference since its inception in 2003, the Pacific Coast Softball Conference will double its members starting in the 2010 season as it expands to 12 teams and separates into two divisions. The original membership of LMU, Portland State, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, and Santa Clara will be joined next year by Cal State Bakersfield, Idaho State, Northern Colorado, Seattle, Utah Valley, and Weber State. The conference will be split into two six-team divisions, with the six California-based schools making up the Coastal Division and the remaining six teams comprising the Mountain Division. The expansion will form the largest conference in the nation, equaling the lineups of the Atlantic Sun, Big East, MEAC, and Mid-American Conferences, all of which contain 12 teams.
Odd Year Trend
LMU has won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference title three times since its inception in 2003. Oddly enough, each of those championships has come in an odd-numbered year - 2003, 2005, and 2007. Now we find ourselves in 2009 and the final year of the PCSC with its current lineup. Can LMU continue the trend? Only time will tell.
One of the realities of collegiate sports is that every year, there will probably be a different set of players out on the field as most teams say goodbye to their seniors and welcome in a new batch of freshmen. Well, LMU bid farewell to its seniors and brought in several freshmen but it has the luxury of returning all nine field starters from last season, including seven players who were named to the all-conference team. On opening day 2009, every position can conceivably be filled by a player who started at least 38 games at that position in 2008. That's not to say that the lineup will be exactly the same - competition for starting jobs has been fierce - but LMU could toss out any combination of its 12 returning letterwinners.
At the core of the returning dozen are four seniors who have been to the NCAA Tournament twice and are looking for a third trip to complete their careers. Outfielders Kirsten Slouber and MiaSarah Cesena, SS Megan Ackerman, and catcher Chelsie Tysdal are either already featured in the LMU career record books or soon will be. Joining them are a trio of All-PCSC juniors in catcher Darcy Pagnini, pitcher Melissa Dykema, and 3B/OF J.J. Hartung. Sophomore 2B Amy Charpentier is another player who earned All-PCSC honors. Add into the mix sophomore OF Jennifer Nayudu and Priscilla Satete, along with junior 1B Emma May, and the Lions are probably deeper than they ever have been.
Just two players graduated from last year's squad - pitcher Tiffany Pagano and INF Tracy Cook. Both will be difficult to replace. Pagano was a three-time PCSC Pitcher of the Year and LMU's all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, complete games, shutouts, and innings pitched. Cook missed most of last season due to injury but still finished her career ninth on LMU's home run list.
Even with all the returning players, Gary Ferrin has loaded up with an octet of talented freshmen. Third baseman Sam Fischer (Simi Valley, CA) was the Ventura County Player of the Year and EA Sports Second Team All-American while outfielder Brittany Pereda (Yorba Linda, CA) was the Trinity League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. Infielder Katrina Bodewig (Brea, CA) was selected to play in the Orange County All-Star Game, catcher Stephanie Hughes (Manhattan Beach, CA) was a three-time First Team All-Bay League selection, and 1B Kelly Sarginson (Walnut Creek, CA) has already been inducted into the Northgate High School Hall of Fame. High School teammates Kaz Masutani and Kylie Ahlo were both First Team All-Hawai'i selections at Iolani School in Honolulu and pitcher Corie Goodman (Vista, CA) will make an immediate impact after being her school's Defensive Player of the Year.
New Ace in Town
Without a doubt, LMU's success in 2009 will rely on its pitching. Three-time PCSC Pitcher of the Year Tiffany Pagano is gone but the Lions still have a formidable front-line starter in junior Melissa Dykema. The 2007 PCSC Co-Freshman of the Year, Dykema is 41-14 over her first two collegiate seasons. She enters her junior year poised to continue her climb up several LMU career top-10 lists. She is already among the leaders in strikeouts (fourth), complete games (fourth), shutouts (fourth), wins (fifth), innings pitched (seventh), appearances (eight), and games started (ninth). Last year, she set a new LMU single-game record with 16 strikeouts, one of two outings that year in which she had double-digit strikeouts.
The most consistent player over her first two seasons (.328 average both years) before breaking out with a .361 average last year, senior Kirsten Slouber is the engine that keeps the Lions going. LMU's leadoff hitter and centerfielder, Slouber has been named First Team All-PCSC each of the last two seasons and led the conference in hits last year with 76. Now a senior, Slouber is on no fewer than six LMU top-10 lists. Her .339 career batting average ranks fifth while she is third in runs scored and fourth in hits, both categories in which she could reach the top spot. She is also fifth in doubles, eighth in at bats, and ninth in slugging percentage. Barring anything unforeseen, she will also enter the top-10 in games played, home runs, and RBI.
After setting a new LMU single-season record with 50 RBI and being named Second Team All-Pacific Region, it would be tough for senior Chelsie Tysdal to give an encore. Yet, with consistent hitters setting the table in front of her and big boppers behind her, Tysdal could replicate her monster junior year in which she hit .382 with 11 homers. Tied for fifth on the LMU career home run chart with 19, Tysdal is also eighth in RBI (87) and could challenge the career mark of 149. Defensively, Tysdal was solid behind the plate, picking off six runners and throwing another six out trying to steal.
New Position, Same Results?
The breakout player of last year was far and away J.J. Hartung. As a freshman, Hartung hit .200 in just 40 at-bats and was used primarily as a pinch-runner. Last year, she was LMU's starting third baseman and led in the PCSC with a .405 average, the third-highest in school history. This year, her bat will again be important as she sets the table at the bottom of the lineup as what Gary Ferrin calls "my second leadoff hitter". Hartung should not have to adjust to a new position in the hitting lineup but will have to learn how to play a new position in the field as she makes the move from third to rightfield. If anything, this move will help the Lions defensively as Hartung's speed and strong arm will give them an added dimension.
Across the Way
One person who can give pointers to Hartung about making the move from the infield to the outfield is senior MiaSarah Cesena. The Lions' starting leftfielder each of the last two years, Cesena began her career as a shortstop before making the switch. She seems to have adjusted fine to the change, improving her offensive and defensive numbers every year. A career .254 hitter entering last year, Cesena hit a personal-best .301 out of the nine hole while adding a career-high 25 RBI.
One of the reasons for Tysdal's success has been the presence of senior Megan Ackerman behind her. Ackerman has hit nine home runs in each of the last two seasons and is tied for fifth all-time at LMU with 19. After driving in 39 runs as a sophomore, Ackerman got off to a slow start in 2008 before coming on strong and finishing with 28, giving her 82 for her career, ninth all-time. Ackerman also topped .300 for the first time last year and has improved her batting average every season, strong indications that she will continue to do so. Defensively, Ackerman has also shored up the mistakes at short, cutting down on her errors from 24 in 2007 to just seven last year.
One of LMU's most versatile players, it is hard to guess where junior Darcy Pagnini will start the game but you can be assured that she will be in the lineup. After redshirting the 2006 season due to injury, Pagnini played in 54 games last year at catcher, designated player, third base, and first base. This year, she is expected to split time with Tysdal with one as the designated player while the other catches. Voted a team captain each of the last two years, Pagnini is a leader on and off the field. She set a new LMU single season record with 18 doubles last year while hitting .296 with six homers and 20 RBI. Behind the plate, she threw out six baserunners and picked off three more.
Which Foley Will Appear?
The dreaded sophomore slump hit Christine Foley last year and hit her hard. After setting the LMU single-season mark with a .416 average and earning PCSC Player of the Year honors as a freshman, Foley slumped to .271 last year. Still, she showed flashes of the old Foley with a team-high 15-game hitting streak. Although she is unlikely to replicate her freshman year, it is doubtful that she will suffer through another season like 2008. Her career batting average of .348 is third all-time at LMU and would suit the coaches just fine.
Several newcomers stepped up last year but none more so than Amy Charpentier. The diminutive second base made an immediate impact by providing the walk-off hit in the 12th inning of the season opener against Southern Utah and went on to start every game. She led all rookies with a .317 average and was tops on the team with 23 walks and 35 runs scored.