Softball Cards chasing 2015 bar

Published 11:21 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016

BEAUMONT — The Lamar Cardinals made program history last year. This year they are back for more and want to set new heights.
Lamar won a school-best 26 games in 2015 and finished fifth in the Southland Conference standings. The Cardinals then had quite the run through the SLC Tournament, placing third.
SLC coaches and sports information directors both picked Lamar to finish fourth this year.
“We are very excited to get going,” Lamar coach Holly Bruder said. “It is fair for the coaches to put us fourth. Northwestern [State] is traditionally great and so are both McNeese [State] and Central Arkansas. We have never won the conference so fourth is fair. This does show the coaches respect us.”
Lamar gained respect this season because the Cardinals return five of the top seven hitters from last season.
Senior shortstop Stephanie Meeuwsen led the team with a .358 batting average to go with two home runs and 30 RBI. Senior left fielder Sarah Ragsdale, a West Orange-Stark graduate, hit .315 and junior catcher Brynn Baca batted .305.
“We are going to be fun to watch,” Bruder said. “We hustle through the bags and we are going to dive for balls in the infield and outfield. Our team loves to play the game of softball.”
Sophomore right-hander Laura Napoli returns to the mound after going 19-17 with a 3.89 ERA. Lauren Dannelley is also in the pitching staff after a 7-9, 2015 campaign along with junior transfer Ciara Luna, from Navarro College.
“This is the most pitching depth we’ve had in the four years at Lamar,” Bruder said. “I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far at practice.”
The Cardinals will be tested early this season with a trip to Las Vegas to participate in the Sportco Kickoff Classic.
Lamar starts with games against Syracuse and UNLV on Friday before facing USA Today’s No. 9-ranked Oklahoma and Utah Valley on Saturday. The Cardinals finish the tournament against South Dakota on Sunday.
“The month of February is going to be tough,” Bruder said. “Playing against Oklahoma is going to be a big feat. That first weekend we are going to be tested. I want to see how our team bounces back after that weekend whether we go 0-5 or 5-0. This is a chance to show what we have to offer.”
Lamar’s first home game is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19 against Incarnate Word during the Cardinal Classic held at the Lamar Softball Complex. Lamar will play Northern Colorado at 4:45 that day.
The Cardinals face Alcorn State at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 and Texas Southern at 4:45 p.m. Lamar finishes the tournament at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, against Northern Colorado.
“We always want to fill up the stadium,” Bruder said. “That is going to be the goal. First, you have to win.”

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About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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