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Softball begins quest for 20th NCAA appearance

LBSU opens 2010 campaign against Loyola Marymount on Saturday in Las Vegas

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Softball begins quest for 20th NCAA appearance

Junior pitcher Brooke Turner enters the 2010 season after undergoing surgery on her throwing elbow during the offseason. The Buena Park native is one of three returning pitchers along with sophomore Taylor Petty and senior Bridgette Pagano. The 49ers kick off the season with a doubleheader on Saturday against Loyola Marymount and Illinois.

Junior pitcher Brooke Turner enters the 2010 season after undergoing surgery on her throwing elbow during the offseason. The Buena Park native is one of three returning pitchers along with sophomore Taylor Petty and senior Bridgette Pagano. The 49ers kick off the season with a doubleheader on Saturday against Loyola Marymount and Illinois.

Tracy McDannald / Daily 49er

Junior pitcher Brooke Turner enters the 2010 season after undergoing surgery on her throwing elbow during the offseason. The Buena Park native is one of three returning pitchers along with sophomore Taylor Petty and senior Bridgette Pagano. The 49ers kick off the season with a doubleheader on Saturday against Loyola Marymount and Illinois.

Tracy McDannald / Daily 49er

Tracy McDannald / Daily 49er

Junior pitcher Brooke Turner enters the 2010 season after undergoing surgery on her throwing elbow during the offseason. The Buena Park native is one of three returning pitchers along with sophomore Taylor Petty and senior Bridgette Pagano. The 49ers kick off the season with a doubleheader on Saturday against Loyola Marymount and Illinois.

Andrea C. Quezada, Assistant sports editor

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Success for the Long Beach State softball team this season could rest firmly on the surgically repaired right elbow of junior pitcher Brooke Turner.

The 49ers, who finished last season with a 35-21 overall record and 15-6 in the Big West conference, were recently selected by the Big West’s eight head coaches to finish second in the conference’s preseason poll.

“I know they said that we’re supposed to finish number two, but I think we have it to go all the way,” said Turner, a 5-foot-11 right-hander who completed the 2009 season with an 18-13 record, 2.35 earned run average, and 157 strikeouts in the circle.

The Buena Park native underwent minor surgery on her elbow in late August. Turner said the injury had been lingering since her senior season at Kennedy High School and worsened as the years went on.

She also said it was bothering her early during last season.

“I’m not 100 percent yet, but my arm feels fine,” Turner said. “I’m excited to get back on the field. I’ve been throwing for the last month or two so I feel good.”

Head coach Kim Sowder said The Beach’s two other returning pitchers, Taylor Petty and Bridgette Pagano, received a lot of throwing time in the fall and added that they are ready to go and Turner should soon follow suit.

Petty, a sophomore, was named Co-Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year last season. The 5-foot-5 San Pedro High School graduate finished the 2009 season with a 15-4 record and 1.39 ERA, while striking out 134 batters.

Gone from last season’s lineup are 2009 Big West Co-Field Player of the Year Jennifer Griffin, who is in her first season as an undergraduate assistant for The Beach, along with Danielle Linke. Griffin and Linke led the team in RBIs last season, with Griffin driving in 40 runs and Linke plating 28.

Sowder said Griffin is interested in coaching and that her assistant position should provide her with an opportunity to gain experience and share her knowledge with the current players.

The fourth-year head coach has yet to make a final decision on which of the 21 players will crack the batting order.

“Our team has a lot of depth and a lot of competition at every position so I’m going to wait until the final week to make that decision,” Sowder said. “We have a lot of scrimmages to play and I want to see what happens with those.”

Sowder lost a handful of players due to graduation, but she has plenty of newcomers vying to fill those slots.

“I think a lot of our newcomers are definitely going to have an impact right away,” Sowder said. “We lost four starting positions and we’re gonna need four players to step in those positions … I certainly see a few of them in the lineup this year.”

One of the newcomers Sowder said could make an immediate impact is Christina Schallig, who made all-Pac 10 as a freshman at California before coming to The Beach.

“Christina brings experience, obviously playing at a high level, I look to her to be a big part of our offense,” Sowder said.

If the 49ers want to take home the Big West title, they’ll have to get by Cal Poly, a team that swept them last season and is picked to finish atop the Big West.

“We left too many runners on base and we needed to adjust earlier in the game to Anna Cahn,” senior outfielder Ashley Weber said of last season’s matchup against the Mustangs’ ace.

Weber, a 2009 All-Big West first-team selection and one of six seniors on the squad, said if the 49ers make some adjustments at the plate, it could be a different story this season. For all the run-production they lost from last season, she hinted that the team could have the intangibles to capture the conference.

“This is going to be a great year, we have 21 girls rostered with us, which is the most we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Weber said. “Each one of them contributes no matter what their job is or what their role is.

“They all bring something to this team and that’s what’s going to make this team so much better. We lost some key players from last year but this roster is going to be able to fill it pretty well.”

LBSU opens the season against Loyola Marymount on Saturday at the Sportco Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. First pitch is set for 9 a.m.
 

 

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