BEAUMONT, Texas – Ashley McDowell is savoring her opportunity to play some more games at the LU Softball Complex.
The fifth-year Lamar University senior, who is LU’s all-time leader in games played, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, total bases, stolen bases, fielding chances and putouts, will play at least two more games on LU’s home field when the Cardinals host regional competition in the inaugural National Invitational Softball Championship that gets underway on Tuesday. Action begins at 4 p.m. when Abilene Christian takes on UT Arlington. The Cardinals host the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at 7p.m.
“Senior Day was emotional because we thought it was our last game at home.” McDowell said. “Now we get the chance to play here again in a national tournament. We’re going to go all out. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
It’s the first-ever appearance for the Cardinals in a national tournament. LU, which revived the program in 2013 after dropping the program in 1987, has qualified for the Southland Conference Tournament in four of its first five seasons since the program’s revival.
“We’ve come a long way in those five years,” said McDowell, who is the only remaining player from that 2013 team. “We’re proud of what we accomplished here, and I know that the future is bright for this program.”
The Cardinals (28-28) are seeded third in the four-team, double-elimination regional. The seeds are based on a team’s RPI. UT Arlington (32-26) is seeded first with an RPI of 80. Louisiana-Monroe (30-28) is seeded second with an RPI of 110. LU’s RPI is 125, while Abilene Christian (32-20) is the No. 4 seed with an RPI of 129.
There are six regionals being played this week, with the six regional champions to play for the national tournament title next week at a site to be determined.
“Being part of the first of anything is special,” Bruder said. “Being able to host the first of anything is even more special. We have had great fan support all year long. We’re hoping that continues this week.”
McDowell, a third-team All-Southland Conference selection this season, is one of three LU seniors who get to extend their careers. LU catcher Brynn Baca, a first-team all-conference choice and right-handed pitcher Ciara Luna, a second-team all-conference pick, are the others who aren’t ready to say goodbye to LU just yet.
“I’m happy that our seniors get the opportunity to play at home again,” Bruder said. “It’s also great for our returning players to get postseason experience like this. It will be invaluable.”
Season-ticket holders have until noon Tuesday to purchase the reserved seat they had for the regular season before tickets go on sale to the general public. Tickets for the three-day, double-elimination event are $12 per day for reserved and $10 per day for general admission. Three-day ticket books are $30 for reserved and $25 for general admission. College students with a valid ID may purchase one-day tickets for $5 apiece. Children 12-and-younger do not need a ticket unless they are in the reserved-seating section.
Tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon Tuesday.