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Loaded Schedule Ahead For Softball

Glenelle Nitta greeted after her home run

TEXAS TWO-STEP: The Pacific Lutheran University softball team travels to Texas this weekend for 10 games in six days. The games take on special meaning as the Lutes hope that a good showing will reflect positively on the Division III West Region rankings. PLU heads into the weekend with a 16-6 record on the year, and with a 14-2 mark in Northwest Conference action the Lutes sit in a tie for first-place in the conference standings with No. 1-ranked Linfield College. In an attempt to bolster the program's strength of schedule in hopes of earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament, Pacific Lutheran hits the road deep in the heart of Texas.

THE SCHEDULE:

Date     Opponent Time (Pacific)
3/24 PLU vs Hardin-Simmons (Live Stats) 10 a.m.
  PLU vs Hardin-Simmons (Live Stats) 12 p.m.
3/26 PLU vs Mary Hardin-Baylor 12 p.m.
  PLU vs Mary Hardin-Baylor 2 p.m.
3/27 PLU vs East Texas-Baptist 2 p.m.
  PLU vs East Texas-Baptist 4 p.m.
3/28 PLU vs LeTourneau 2 p.m.
  PLU vs LeTourneau 4 p.m.
3/29 PLU vs Texas-Tyler 2 p.m.
  PLU vs Texas-Tyler 2 p.m.

CLIMBING THE RANKINGS: Despite dropping one of four games to George Fox University last weekend in NWC play, the Lutes climbed one spot in this week's National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 poll. This week, the Lutes hold the No. 6 spot in the poll. Linfield, who dropped to No. 4 last week following the Lutes two-game sweep, climbed back into the No. 1 spot in this week's poll. To view the complete Top 25, click here.

HAGENSEN DOING WHAT SHE DOES BEST: Senior Stacey Hagensen did it all for the Lutes last weekend in the team's three victories over George Fox. From the plate, Hagensen hit .538 (7-for-13) and scored three runs in the four-game series. More importantly, the 2011 NWC Pitcher of the Year dominated in her two starts from the pitching circle. Tossing two complete games, Hagensen struck out nine over the weekend, and she also recorded a save in her other appearance. Surrendering only three earned runs over 15 and 2/3 innings pitched, the senior improved her NWC-best ERA to 1.75 on the season.

A LOOK AT THE COWGIRLS: Pacific Lutheran kicks off its week in Texas with a doubleheader against Hardin-Simmons University. The Cowgirls are 13-5 on the season and are currently on a 10-game win streak. Freshman Taylor Namey is off to a great start to her collegiate career and is batting .460 this season and has already hit five home runs for the program.

SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS: The University of Hardin-Baylor Crusaders sit at 11-8 on the season coming into the weekend. Before the Crusaders and Lutes square off, Hardin-Baylor is set for a weekend doubleheader with Texas Lutheran University. Hannah White has started every game for Hardin-Baylor this season and has already registered a team-high 28 hits. 

TAMING THE TIGERS: East Texas Baptist will take on the Lutes in a mid-week doubleheader. The Tigers are just two years removed from a national championship. This season, the Tigers are 10-4 and sit in third place in the East Division of the American Southwest Conference.

DON'T GET STUNG: The LeTourneau University YellowJackets are 9-9 on the season and have won five of their past seven games. Anna White heads the YellowJacket offense, leading the team in both batting average (.489) and runs batted in (15).

SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST: Perhaps the toughest opponent the Lutes will face all week will be in the team's final doubleheader against the University of Texas-Tyler. The Patriots hold the No. 10 ranking in this week's NFCA Top 25 poll. At 13-3 on the year, Texas-Tyler is a perfect 6-0 when playing in its home ballpark. 

THE SCHEDULE DOES NOT LET UP: Upon returning to the state of Washington following a brutal six-day schedule, PLU will have one day to prepare before NWC play resumes. On March 31, the Lutes host a double header against Willamette University. The next day, Linfield College visits Parkland for a double header and the Wildcats will be focused on picking up two victories. Those four games following the Lutes road trip will play a crucial role in determining conference supremacy for the 2012 regular season.

- PLU -