Published 12:11 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — The Lamar softball team was picked to finish in the upper echelon of the Southland Conference this season in voting by the SLC’s coaches and sports information directors.

The Cardinals were picked to finish third by the league’s coaches, while the SLC sports information directors tabbed the Cardinals to place fourth. Defending regular-season and tournament champion McNeese State was picked first in both polls, with Abilene Christian selected to finish second. Nicholls State was picked to finish fourth by the coaches and third by the SIDs.

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“I think it’s a fair poll,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “It’s a benchmark based on last season. Do I think we can finish in the top two? Absolutely. But we are a young program and we have to prove to our competitors that we are a team that will finish near the top each season.”

The Cardinals return eight starters from last season’s record-setting 35-22 squad that reached the Southland Conference Tournament finals before losing to McNeese. LU returns first-team all-conference selections in outfielder Brittany Rodriguez (.393, 0 home runs, 13 RBI) and catcher Brynn Baca (.321/1/24). LU also returns starting pitchers Ciara Luna (17-8, 2.52 ERA), the conference’s Newcomer of the Year last season, and Laura Napoli (9-8, 3.00 ERA), who set a school single-season record with five saves.

“Our dynamic is a little different than last season, but that’s true for every team in the conference,” Bruder said. “We’re going to use this as a little bit of motivation.”

The Cardinals, who are in their fifth season after reviving the program in 2013, open their season by facing Central Michigan in the Aggie Classic at Texas A&M at 3 p.m. Feb. 10. The home season gets underway at 4 p.m. Feb. 23 when the Cardinals host Alabama A&M in the opening game of the Cardinal Classic.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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