Lamar’s championship chase resumes Sunday

Published 4:04 pm Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – The Lamar softball team, fresh off its dramatic 3-2 walk-off win over Louisiana-Monroe to capture the championship of the National Invitational Softball Championship Beaumont Regional, meets Cal Poly at 3 p.m. Sunday in the opening game of the NISC Championships at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Cal Poly (37-19) swept through its regional with three shutout wins. The Mustangs are led by senior right-hander Sierra Hyland, who is 23-12 with two saves and a 0.97 ERA. Hyland, who threw a one-hitter in Cal Poly’s 3-0 win over Nevada in the regional championship game, has struck out 255 batters in 244 1/3 innings over 41 appearances, including 30 starts. When not pitching, Hyland is in the lineup as the designated player, hitting a team-leading .331 with a team-best 36 RPIs.

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LU (31-29) will likely counter with senior right-hander Ciara Luna (16-17, 2.17). Luna appeared in all four games in the regional, with three starts. Luna was 3-1 with a 0.30 ERA, striking out 13 in 23 2/3 innings. Luna, who holds the LU career record with 256 strikeouts, has fanned 144 batters this season, one shy of the school mark of 145 set by Shannon Millman in 2013.

Offensively, LU is led by junior center fielder Brittany Rodriguez, who has team-leading figures in batting average (.379), slugging percentage (.500) and on-base percentage (.444). Rodriguez had two hits in Thursday’s championship round to give her 72 hits on the season, breaking her own school record of 70 set last spring.

Sophomore second baseman Kelly Meeuwsen was LU’s leading hitter in the regional, batting .538 (7-for-13) with two triples, two RBIs and three runs scored.

The winner of the LU-Cal Poly game faces Illinois State (33-22) at noon Monday, while the loser would play an elimination game at 6 p.m. Monday.

Sunday’s other first-round game sees Weber State (36-20-1) taking on the host Liberty Flames (41-23) at 6 p.m. Sunday. The winner of that game takes on top-seeded Kennesaw State (39-18) at 9 a.m. Monday.

Liberty is the only team in the tourney that the Cardinals have faced before LU is 1-1 vs. the Flames, claiming a 10-6 win in 2015 and dropping a 6-5 decision last year.

The semifinals and finals will be shown live on ESPN3.

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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