Cardinals softball starts SLC Tournament

Published 10:47 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lamar sports information
BEAUMONT — The Lamar softball team returns to the postseason for the third time in four years when it faces Sam Houston State in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament at 11 a.m. today at McNeese State University.
The Cardinals (32-20 overall, 18-9 Southland) enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed, LU’s highest seeding for the tournament since LU revived the softball program in 2013. Last season, the Cardinals, who entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed, finished third at the tourney.
“We had a great tournament last season, and we’re looking to do even better this year,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “We just have to come out focused right from the start.”
This will be LU’s first look at Sam Houston State since the 2014 season. Due to the Southland Conference’s unbalanced schedule, the Cardinals and Bearkats have not met in the regular season over the past two years.
“It should be fun playing somebody new,” Bruder said. “We don’t know what to expect from them, and they don’t know what to expect from us. It could be interesting.”
The sixth-seeded Bearkats (21-31, 13-14) had won six in a row before dropping a 2-0 decision at Stephen F. Austin in the regular-season finale on Saturday, allowing the Ladyjacks to earn the No. 5 seed. This will be the second-ever meeting between Sam Houston State and LU in the conference tourney. The Bearkats eliminated LU from the 2013 tournament with an 8-4 victory.
The Bearkats hit .289 as a team in conference play, led by Breanna Homer, who hit .398 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 27 SLC games. Junior right-hander Taylor Atkinson (5-5, 3.92) and freshman righty Lindsey McLeod (6-7, 4.24) saw the bulk of action in conference play for Sam Houston State.
LU junior right-hander Ciara Luna (15-7, 2.57), who was the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year after posting a 10-3 record with a 2.21 ERA in conference games, joins forces with sophomore right-hander Laura Napoli (8-7, 3.10) to lead the LU pitching staff. Napoli, a member of the all-tournament team last season, ended the regular season with an eight-inning 1-0 win at Nicholls State on Saturday.
“Laura pitched as well as she has all season,” Bruder said of Napoli’s performance at Nicholls. “We need that pitching depth going into the tournament.”
Offensively, LU is led by a pair of first-team All-Southland Conference selections in right fielder Brittany Rodriguez and catcher Brynn Baca. Rodriguez leads LU with a .393 batting average. Rodriguez, who batted .398 in conference games, has rapped out a school-record 64 hits this season.
Baca is hitting .329 overall, and .347 in conference play, with a .478 on-base percentage overall and in SLC competition.
Freshman second baseman Kelly Meeuwsen, who like Luna was a second-team all-conference selection is hitting .329 overall with a .323 conference batting average. Meeuwsen already owns single-season school marks with 20 doubles and 40 RBIs.
The winner of this morning’s game faces No. 2 seed Nicholls at 4 p.m. today in the double-elimination event, while the loser faces the loser of today’s Central Arkansas-Stephen F. Austin game at 11 a.m. Thursday.
The championship round is set for Friday. The first nine games of the Southland Softball Tournament will be streamed live for free on the Southland Conference Digital Network, including and the league’s mobile and tablet apps. The championship round will be an exclusive presentation of ESPN3, available via and the WatchESPN app.
Adult all-tournament passes are available for $21 and $11 for youth. Tickets will also be available for each day of the tournament. A single-day pass is $11 for adults and $6 for youth. For ticket purposes, a youth is any child ages 5-17. All students from Southland Conference schools will receive free admission with a valid student ID, and all children ages four and younger will also be admitted free. To purchase tickets, contact the McNeese Athletics Ticket Office at 337-562-4678 or visit

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