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Softball aims for one SLC step further

The Lamar softball team begins its 2024 season Friday in Lake Charles, La. Image credit: LU athletics.

The Lamar softball team begins its 2024 season Friday in Lake Charles, La.Image credit: LU athletics.

The Lamar softball team begin their season, Friday, against Tarleton State at the Cowgirl Classic in Lake Charles, La. The Lady Cards have a tough schedule to start the season as they don’t play a home game until Feb. 25 at the Lamar/McNeese Tournament where they play Niagara University.

LU head coach Amy Hooks said she scheduled tough preseason, softball’s 12th, including playing at three-time defending national champions University of Oklahoma, Feb. 17. The idea is to prepare the team for Southland Conference play.

“More importantly, (we are playing) teams that are going to get us ready and teach us a lot about who we are to get ready for conference,” she said. “We have a great SLC, I think. Every year the teams in the conference are getting better and better. So, scheduling really tough competitions before we get into SLC play is kind of how we map it out.

“We have eight returners from last year’s squad that made a pretty good run in the Southland Conference Tournament. We were one game away from the championship game, so we have eight that kind of have that taste left in their mouth, and that hunger and chip on their shoulder to want to come and go further this year.”

Cameron Niedenthal is returning for her fourth year. The Port Neches native earned herself a spot on the SLC All Conference team last season.

Coach Hooks has been working to improve the squad alongside the recruiting team. Over the offseason, Lamar acquired 14 new players. Five of the newcomers are transfers from schools such as San Diego State, UNLV and Southern Utah.

“Experience is a big thing and I want to get them in, I want to get them experience in the Southern Conference,” Hooks said. “I want them to know our culture is a big thing for us — fitting into the culture. The eight returners have been able to lay that foundation for the 14 new ones — just being relentless every time we take the field and playing Lamar softball and knowing we’re never out of the fight.”

Last year’s team won their first playoff game since the 2017 season. This season, the Lady Cards are looking to bring home a conference trophy, the program’s first. 

“Our goal is to win a Southland Conference Championship,” Hooks said. “This is team 12, and in those 12 years we've never won a regular season or a tournament championship.

“From day one, from the meeting, that's been our goal, and every day we take the field, we have that goal in mind — we want to bring the first one ever back to Beaumont.”

Category: Sports