Jan. 13, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas –Next to opening day, the first day of practice is the best day of the year for Lamar University softball coach Holly Bruder.
Therefore, Bruder was in a great mood as the Lady Cardinals held their first practice Monday in preparation for the Feb. 8 season-opening doubleheader at UTSA. The first week of practice consists of individual drills before the team practices together as a unit.
“It looks like they worked out over break and got their hitting in,” Bruder said. “It looks like they all came back ready to work.”
Lamar went 24-33 overall last season in its first softball campaign since 1987. The Lady Cardinals qualified for the Southland Conference Tournament by finishing fifth with a 14-13 conference record.
“We won’t catch anybody by surprise this season,” Bruder said. “Other teams know who are best hitters are, and sometimes they will pitch around them. We need others to step up.”
One of Bruder’s goals is to make a tournament berth a regular thing.
“We want to finish better than we did last season,” she said. “Our goals are to finish in the top three and win at least one game in the conference tournament.”
Lamar returns a number of players from last season, including Candyce Carter, who hit .339 with a school-record 31 RBIs; and Ashley McDowell, who belted a school-record 12 home runs. Left-hander Shannon Millman (17-16, 4.30) and right-hander Tina Schulz (5-13, 5.03) return as Lamar’s top pitchers.
“I think with a year of experience under their belt, Shannon and Tina will be even better this season,” Bruder said. “Tina was pitching really well when fall practice ended.”
Lamar will be away from home for its first 13 games of the season before hosting Southeastern Louisiana in the home opener and Southland Conference doubleheader at 2 p.m. March 8.
“I don’t think being away from home at the start of the season is a bad thing,” Bruder said. “It will give us time to get our field ready and let other teams have to deal with the bad weather at the start of the season.
All home games will be played at Lamar Park. For ticket information, call (409) 880-1715, or visit www.LamarCardinals.com.