ATHLETICS | What a week for LMU softball and baseball. The softball team, playing in their first postseason tournament since 2007, won their regional in the opening round of the National Invitational Softball Championships (NISC) in Greeley, Colorado, on the campus of Northern Colorado. The Lions beat the host Bears in a come-from-behind effort, 7-4, to remain in the winner’s bracket. In Thursday’s game, LMU blanked South Dakota State, 8-0, in a total team performance to advance to the championship game. After the Jackrabbits advanced through the loser’s side of the bracket, the two teams squared off again for the regional title on Friday. SDSU took the first game, forcing a winner-take-all second game where LMU took care of business for a 7-1 win.
LMU advanced to the Championship Round, and earned the right to host the four-team tournament that begins on May 23. Play begins at Smith Field with LMU hosting UT Arlington at 11 a.m. The second game of the day will be between Eastern Kentucky and UC Riverside at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday’s results set up three games on Thursday, with start times scheduled for 10 a.m. then tentatively following at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Championship Friday will begin at 11 a.m. with the first opportunity to claim the title, with an if-necessary game following at 1:30 p.m. The LMU Tournament Central has all information including the full bracket, ticket information for the full tournament or single days, and parking information.
The NISC Tournament followed the announcement of the West Coast Conference softball awards announcement where eight Lions were recognized for their accomplishments this season. Major awards included Loyola Marymount head coach Sami Strinz-Ward being named WCC Softball Coach of the Year, junior Hannah Bandimere being named Co-Pitcher of the Year, and freshman second baseman Maddison Flores also earned a WCC specialty award, being named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Baseball entered the weekend needing to sweep St. Mary’s, who sat in second in the WCC to start the week. With a trip to the WCC Championships on the line, LMU won all three games to cap off the regular season and move into third in the conference heading into the tournament. The Lions kicked off the weekend with a strong pitching performance for a 7-0 win, came from behind to win 9-4 on Saturday, and walked off on Senior Day with a 6-5 win. The performances earned Codie Paiva and Niko Pacheco its Rawlings Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively. The Lions head north to face the second-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in the opening round of the WCC Championships, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, California.
On the golf course, Riley Elmes competed in the NCAA Stockton regional in his first NCAA tournament. The LMU junior finished in a tie for 16thin the 75 player field, and Elmes matched his opening round 72 on Wednesday to give him a three-day total of 72-69-72 — 213. Of the individuals competing, Elmes finished tied for fourth. He finished his junior season with a 71.33 stroke average, LMU’s second-best all-time, surpassing his sophomore season’s 71.33. Only Brian Locke’s 71.00 in 2006-07 tops Elmes in the program record books.
More NCAA competitors see action this week as freshman Veronica Miroshnichenko has been selected to represent LMU at the 2018 NCAA Singles Championship May 23-28 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, while she and fellow freshman, Eva Marie Voracek, will compete in the 2018 NCAA Doubles Championship. Miroshnichenko earned an at-large bid into the singles draw, while the Lion pair also earned the at-large big into the doubles draw.
A pair of Loyola Marymount track and field seniors, Jack Polerecky and Maddi Vorgitch, have qualified to participate in the West Preliminary of the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This marks the sixth-consecutive year, and 12th overall in the 13 years of sponsoring women’s track, and since the re-establishment of the men’s program, that the Lions have advanced athletes into the postseason. The men’s and women’s Division I outdoor track and field preliminary competitions are scheduled for May 24-26. Sacramento State will host the West preliminary, which Polerecky and Vorgitch will be participating in, at Hornet Stadium. Polerecky and Vorgitch will compete in the 10,000 meters on Thursday, May 24, at 9 p.m. (men’s) and 9:40 p.m. (women’s) PDT.