Sports briefs for Thursday

Published 11:05 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lamar softball releases 2016 schedule
BEAUMONT – The first-ever softball tournament held on the Lamar University campus highlights the 2016 LU Cardinals schedule that was announced today.
The five-team Cardinal Classic will take place from Feb. 19-21 at the recently completed LU Softball Complex. A total of 12 games over three days will give LU fans plenty of opportunities to see the Cardinals as well as other teams. In addition to LU, the Cardinal Classic will feature Northern Colorado, Texas Southern, Alcorn State and Incarnate Word.
The Cardinals are scheduled to open the season by playing in four tournaments. The LU season begins at the UNLV Tournament from Feb. 12-14. The Cardinal Classic is slated for the following weekend, followed by the Louisiana Tech Classic from Feb. 26-28 and the Tulsa Tournament from March 4-6.
The Cardinals open Southland Conference play the weekend after the Tulsa Tournament when they travel to Houston Baptist for a three game series on March 11-12. The first Southland Conference home dates are March 25-26, when Incarnate Word visits LU.
Last season, the Cardinals were 26-28 overall and 14-10 in Southland Conference play. LU finished third in the conference tournament, and concluded the season with an RPI of 157, the best RPOI since reviving the program, and the fourth best in the Southland Conference last season.

Lamar soccer at home for two key matches
BEAUMONT – The Lamar University women’s soccer team hosts a pair of key Southland Conference contests this weekend, entertaining Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m. Friday and Sam Houston State at 1 p.m. Sunday at the LU Soccer Complex.
The Cardinals (6-6-0 overall, 2-1-0 Southland) enter the weekend in a four-way tie for third place in the conference. Stephen F. Austin (3-6-1, 2-0-1), the defending regular-season champion is in second place. Sam Houston State (5-4-1, 2-1-0), joins Houston Baptist and Central Arkansas in that four-way logjam for third.
LU has to find a way to bounce back from its first conference loss of the season, a 6-1 setback at Central Arkansas on Sunday. That came on the heels of an impressive 3-1 win at Northwestern State on Friday.
The Cardinals enter the week tied for the national lead in goals scored (37) with Howard University. LU is closing in on the school single-season record for goals scored, set by the 2012 team with 41 goals.
LU’s Alexus Aviles is tied for the conference lead with eight goals scored, which is good for 17th nationally. Aviles is second in the conference with 17 points. Meanwhile, LU senior Mari Olastuen is tied for the conference lead and seventh nationally with a school-record seven assists this season.
On the other end of the field, LU goalkeeper Lauren Lovejoy, who has started every game this fall for the Cardinals, is third in the nation with 81 saves.


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Brees expected to throw all week at practice
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Drew Brees’ return to the New Orleans Saints’ lineup seemingly will come sooner than later, even if the club’s all-time passer isn’t quite ready to guarantee he’ll be back under center against Dallas on Sunday night.
Brees said he took most of the snaps at Wednesday’s practice, “and obviously felt good — good enough to do that.”
“I feel really good about Sunday,” he added. “I’ll see how the shoulder responds tomorrow and for the rest of the day, but each day I’m able to do more and more and feel stronger and stronger.”
Brees expressed confidence last week that he would be able to play in Carolina, but ultimately missed last Sunday’s 27-22 loss to the Panthers, which dropped New Orleans to 0-3.
This week holds more promise for Brees’ return, if only because he and coach Sean Payton both said the quarterback’s participation at practice is far more typical than last week, when backup Luke McCown handled first-team snaps.
“It’s going to be safe to say he’s going to throw every day now,” Payton said, adding that Brees has “done well” with his rehabilitation of a bruised rotator cuff and improved his shoulder strength.”
Brees was hurt when he was hit while attempting to throw against Tampa Bay on Sept. 20.

Tony Stewart will retire after 2016 season
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) — There was no final straw, no outside influence, no personal trauma that led Tony Stewart to set an expiration date on his NASCAR career.
Instead, the three-time NASCAR champion simply decided enough was enough.
“I think deep down you know when it’s time to do something to make a change,” Stewart said Wednesday in announcing he will retire from Sprint Cup racing following the 2016 season to wrap up a storied 18-year career in NASCAR’s top tier.
If there was any doubt Stewart was at peace with his decision, he proved otherwise with a wide smile and his usual self-deprecating humor during a news conference that lasted nearly an hour at Stewart-Haas Racing.
He called the decision “100 percent” his choice, said the only pressure he received was from those trying to talk him out of it and he dismissed the idea that his personal struggles the last three years factored into his choice.
Stewart also tried to ward off any sort of retirement tour in 2016 like the one currently going for four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.
Gordon is feted at nearly every track with gifts to commemorate his career, and he visits with reporters almost week to answer questions about this farewell season. Stewart isn’t interested in the same treatment.