Feb. 8, 2013
BEAUMONT, Texas – It’s a whole new ballgame at Lamar University on Saturday, as softball returns to LU for the first time since 1987.
The season gets under way at 2 p.m. Saturday as the Lady Cardinals host UTSA in a non-conference doubleheader at Ford Park. The teams meet again in a single game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Lamar dropped softball in 1987 after sponsoring the sport for five seasons. The Lady Cardinals play a full Southland Conference schedule this season and are eligible for postseason competition.
“Our girls are ready and pumped for the first game,” Lamar coach Holly Bruder
said. “We got a taste of it in the fall, and we’re excited to get the season going.”
Left-hander Shannon Millman is expected to be Lamar’s starting pitcher in Game 1. The junior from Pasadena, Texas, is a transfer from San Jacinto College, where she went 35-13 over two seasons.
“Over the past two to three weeks, Shannon has really come alive with velocity,” Bruder said. “She has a natural down movement on her pitches, and that should help get ground balls.”
Bruder is undecided on the starter for Saturday’s second game.
Offensively, catcher Beverly Corry and second baseman Casey Cromwell have impressed at recent practices.
“Those two can hit both in and out,” Bruder said. “When you can do that, you’re going to be very successful. We’re looking for big things from them.”
UTSA, which left the Southland Conference at the end of last season, was 24-28 overall and placed third in the Southland Conference with a 12-8 record.
“UTSA graduated a lot of players from last season, so they are going to be a young team, just like we are,” Bruder said. “I think it’s a good matchup for us for our first series.”
There has been extensive behind-the-scenes work in getting ready for the return of softball. Bruder and her coaching staff put in a tremendous amount of hours in not only recruiting and scouting, but in transforming Ford Park into a Division I facility.
The transformation would not have been possible without the contributions of numerous volunteers, who donated labor, materials and funding to make Saturday’s return a reality. Two of those volunteers, Rich Courville of Courville’s Catering and Bryan Phelps of Brystar Contracting, will throw out ceremonial first pitches.
“There wouldn’t be an opening day if it weren’t for Bryan and Rich,” Bruder said. “They did so much in getting the field ready. They have done so much for this program.”
Also throwing out first pitches will be Hannah Morris of The Pointe Apartments, Saturday’s game sponsor, and Bruder.
“We’ve gotten great support already from the community,” Bruder said. “We appreciate everything they have done for us. We’re hoping for great crowds this weekend and throughout the season.”
Advance tickets are available online at www.LamarCardinals.com, at the Montagne Center ticket office or by calling (409) 880-1715. Tickets will be available at Ford Park on game days on a cash-only basis.