Softball

Title Defense Begins Saturday

Sophomore 3B J.J. Hartung won last week's PCSC Player of the Week award.
Sophomore 3B J.J. Hartung won last week's PCSC Player of the Week award.

April 2, 2008

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Upcoming Schedule

Saturday, April 5
LMU vs. Santa Clara (4-31) 12:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 6
LMU vs. Santa Clara (4-31) 12:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.

* All games can be followed on Gametracker at www.LMULions.com.

Briefly
The non-conference season all but over, LMU turns its attention to the Pacific Coast Softball Conference as it opens defense of its 2007 title this weekend against Santa Clara. The Lions, who went 18-2 in the PCSC last season, face the Broncos in one of just two home conference series this year.

Lions Ring in New Season
Prior to Saturday's conference opener, the Lions will celebrate their 2007 title with the presentation of their championship rings.

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.

Media Guide
The 2008 LMU softball media guide is available for download at www.LMULions.com. This is the only source of copies for the guide.

LMULions.com Gets Facelift
Be sure to visit www.LMULions.com for all the up-to-date information on the Lions. The site recently underwent an overhaul and visual upgrade. Log on for the latest news, stats, scores, photos, and player bios for your Lions.

Last Week Recap: Lions Split Final Non-Conference Double Dip
In the final non-conference double header of the season on Sunday, LMU and Cal State Bakersfield each came away with a victory with the Lions taking game one 5-2 and the Roadrunners carrying the second, 3-1. In game one, junior Chelsie Tysdal hit her team-leading ninth home run of the season, a three-run shot in the fifth inning, in support of sophomore Melissa Dykema, who picked up her 10th win of the season with an eight-hitter. Bakersfield came back in game two as Brittany Johnson limited the Lions to one unearned run.

About Santa Clara (4-31)
Santa Clara is mired in a 12-game losing streak after dropping a pair of one-run decisions last week at home to UC Riverside. The Broncos have faced six common opponents with LMU, going 1-7 (losses to UC Santa Barbara, Nevada, Cal State Fullerton, Sacramento State, and UC Riverside, win over Rhode Island).
Last season, the Broncos went 12-47 overall and 5-15 in the PCSC to finish sixth. LMU leads the all-time series 35-31, including taking all four games last year in Santa Clara.

PCSC Honors Hartung
Sophomore J.J. Hartung continued her monster season by hitting .600 (3-for-5) in LMU's double header split with Cal State Bakersfield to earn her first career PCSC Player of the Week award. Hartung opened the weekend by going 2-for-3 with a double and run scored then doubled again in game two for her eighth two-bagger of the season, en route to going 1-for-2 and reaching on a hit-by-pitch.

First RPI Rankings Released
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association, in conjunction with mathematician Warren Nolan, released the 2008 season's first RPI rankings on Friday, March 28. LMU was ranked 138th in that initial poll, with a strength of schedule of 238 despite the country's 52nd best record.

PCSC Pieces...
Looking ahead to the PCSC campaign, here are a couple notes to keep in mind... LMU is 71-28 in the five-year history of the conference, averaging 14 wins a season... LMU finished last season on a 13-game conference winning streak... The Lions play only two of the five conference series at home this season, where they have won 11 straight conference games at Smith Field... Senior Tiffany Pagano went a perfect 10-0 in PCSC play last season, winning six games via shutout... she is 22-8 all-time in conference play... Sophomore Christine Foley is hitting .439 against conference opponents...

Lions in PCSC Openers
For all of its dominance of the PCSC over its five-year history, LMU has struggled coming out of the gate. The Lions are only 2-3 in their first conference games of the season and are 13-7 all-time in the opening weekend. LMU has never swept all four games of the first conference weekend.

Dynamic Duo
In senior Tiffany Pagano and sophomore Melissa Dykema, the Lions have arguably the best pitching combination in all of Division I. Last season, the pair combined for all 47 LMU victories and were one of five sets of teammates nationwide to win 21-or-more games. This year, only two teams return a pair of 20-game winners.
Neither disappointed coming out of the gates in 2008. Dykema went 3-1 over the season's first weekend and Pagano was 1-0 with a 0.94 ERA. Both were virtually un-hittable as Dykema set a new single-game record with 16 strikeouts against Rhode Island and Pagano twice had a dozen strikeouts in the season's opening weekend.
Together, the duo are numbers 1-2 in the PCSC in wins, ERA, and opponent batting average. Both have also racked up the awards in the first month, with Dykema earning PCSC Pitcher of the Week honors for February 11 and Pagano following suit the next two weeks and four times total.

No-No for Pagano
With two career no-hitters under her belt, senior Tiffany Pagano recorded the hat trick by holding North Dakota hitless on March 8. Despite some first inning wildness that saw her walk two batters and hit two more, resulting in a 2-0 deficit, Pagano settled down to retire 14 of the last 15 batters she faced. It was her first no-no since February 12, 2007 (Northern Colorado) and she also had one on March 23, 2005 against UC Santa Barbara. Pagano's no-hitter helped earn her PCSC co-Pitcher of the Week honors for March 11 as she also tossed a two-hitter against Loyola-Chicago. She also won back-to-back awards for February 18 and 25 and was lauded again on March 18 after picking up four of LMU's five wins on the week. She has four Pitcher of the Week honors this season and 14 for her career, extending her PCSC record.
The PCSC Pitcher of the Year in two of her three seasons at LMU, Pagano has been making her case for a third honor this season. The senior is 14-5 with a 1.41 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 144.1 innings, all of which lead the conference. She is also the PCSC leader in opponent batting average, stifling foes at a .164 clip. She has nine double-digit strikeout games on the year and 21 for her career, including a career-best 14 against UNLV.
Already LMU's career leader in shutouts (31) and strikeouts (735), Pagano became the school's leader in complete games (75) vs. Cal State Bakersfield, is second in games started (106), saves (six) and wins (63), and is third in appearances (123) and innings pitched (681.0).

Don't You Forget About Me
Not to be overlooked by the performances of Pagano has been the play of her running mate, sophomore Melissa Dykema. Dykema is 10-6 with a 2.12 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 92.1 innings, ranking second in the PCSC in wins, ERA, and opposing batting average.
During the season's opening weekend, she was 3-1 to earn PCSC Pitcher of the Week honors. Against Rhode Island, she set a new LMU single-game record with 16 strikeouts, one of two outings this year that she has had double-digit strikeouts.
In less than two seasons, Dykema is already in the LMU top-five in strikeouts (287, fourth) while she is also fourth with 39 complete games and tied for fifth in victories (36).

Slouber Sets the Table
You would want your leadoff hitter to get on base and, so far, junior Kirsten Slouber has obliged. The 2007 All-PCSC First Teamer hit safely in each of the season's first 12 games (the second-longest streak in the PCSC) and is leading the conference with 45 hits. She is third on the team among regulars with a .349 average and has delivered multiple hits in a game 17 times, tops on the team. She is third with 19 runs scored.
Slouber picked up her second PCSC Player of the Week award in her career when she got the season off to a blazing start, batting .455 (10-22) and hitting safely in all five games, including four multiple-hit outings, at the Red Desert Classic.

Tysdal Tees Off
Junior Chelsie Tysdal has provided much of the fireworks this season, leading the Lions with nine home runs and 34 RBI, both of which also lead the PCSC. Tysdal is among the league leaders in batting average (.382 - second), hits (42 - tied second), slugging percentage (.727 - first), runs scored (22 - tied for third), on-base percentage (.419 - seventh) and doubles (nine - third). Defensively, she has picked off four runners and thrown out five trying to steal. She has already tied or topped her career-highs in eight offensive categories.
Tysdal has won two PCSC Player of the Week awards this season, on February 26 and March 25. The first time, she batted .615 (8-for-13) with three home runs and six RBI, hitting safely in all four of LMU's games to extend her hitting streak to a season-high eight games. Tysdal earned her second career honor after hitting .500 (5-10) with three home runs and seven RBI in four games for the Lions. She hit her first career grand slam to cap LMU's win over UNLV, then opened up the second game of that doubleheader with a two-run shot. In the finale against New Mexico, her solo homer in the fourth proved the difference.

Hey J.J.
The breakout player of the year so far for the Lions has to be sophomore J.J. Hartung. As a freshman, Hartung hit .200 in just 40 at-bats and was used primarily as a pinch-runner. This season, she is LMU's starting third baseman and is leading the PCSC with a .433 average. She is tops on the team with nine stolen bases (in 11 attempts) and is among the league leaders in batting average, hits (42 - tied for second), and on-base percentage (.455 - third). She has 12 multi-hit performances, second on the squad, and is even slugging .567 thanks to eight doubles, a triple, and a home run.

Mia not M.I.A.
Junior MiaSarah Cesena has taken on a definite leadership role with the Lions, both vocally and with her play. A career .254 hitter, on the field she is off to a hot start, batting .329 with 16 RBI. She has shown her willingness to do whatever the team needs by laying down a team-high seven sacrifice bunts.
Cesena had a big weekend at UTEP, driving in three of LMU's four runs against UC Riverside and two more against Binghamton.

A for Ackerman
Junior Megan Ackerman broke out of her early-season slump with career-highs of two home runs and seven RBI against North Dakota on March 8. She also broke out against UNLV, homering three times in the double header, including twice in game two. After leading the team with nine homers in 2007, Ackerman now has five on the season, tied for second on the team. She has also driven in 14 runs and is slugging .500.

Foley, Foley, Foley, Foley!
Also beginning to come around at the plate is sophomore Christine Foley. The 2007 PCSC Player of the Year had the longest hit streak on the team at 15 games before it was snapped against UNLV. The streak helped raise her average to .314. She has also driven in 16 runs, tied for second on the squad and ninth in the conference.
Foley doesn't hit many home runs but she does hit them in clutch spots as her second homer of the year was a two-run walk-off shot to beat Illinois-Chicago on March 16. Foley hit safely in all five of LMU's games that week to extend her hitting streak to a PCSC-best 15 games and earn PCSC co-Player of the Week honors for March 18. For the week, she hit .375 with a double, home run, four RBI and three runs scored.

Two-Bags for Pags
Much of LMU's depth has been provided by the return of sophomore Darcy Pagnini. After redshirting last season due to injury, Pagnini is splitting time behind the plate with Tysdal, with both in the lineup everyday, either as catcher or designated player. That depth has allowed both to thrive, as Pagnini leads the team with 11 doubles while also adding five home runs and 14 RBI to go along with a .284 average. She is second on the team in walks (13) and runs scored (20), ensuring her a vital role as the number three hitter. She has also done well behind the plate, throwing out four baserunners and picking two off.
Pagnini had her first career two-homer game against UNLV, finishing 3-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored.

Freshmen Come Through
Head Coach Gary Ferrin started three freshmen in the season opener and they responded with Priscilla Satete driving in the year's first run and Amy Charpentier providing the walk-off hit against Southern Utah. Charpentier has started every game at second base, leading the rookies with a .311 average and all Lions with 14 walks and 22 runs scored. Her gritty play was personified against Loyola of Chicago when the 5-1 Charpentier ran over the much bigger catcher to score the second of LMU's runs and start the rout. She also hit her first career home-run in the second win over Bucknell.

Homer Happy
LMU certainly teed off against good UNLV pitching on March 19, blasting seven home runs in the double header sweep, including five in game two. The seven total homers on the day was one short of the school record of eight hit on March 7, 2006 against the University of Pennsylvania while the five dingers in game two tied the single-game record set in the second game of that double header against UPenn. Even more remarkable was that the seven homers were hit by only three players, as junior Megan Ackerman crushed three while junior Chelsie Tysdal and sophomore Darcy Pagnini each had two. Ackerman and Pagnini each went deep twice in the second game, marking the first time that two Lions had homered multiple times in the same contest.

 

 

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