On Oct. 26, the official schedules for both baseball and softball were released. The softball team is scheduled to play a total of 55 games this season, including three tournaments and 35 games at Smith Field, the most they’ve had since 2000 at home. As for baseball, the Lions will play a total of 54 games this season, including 24 home games at Page Stadium. While there are many games to look out for this season, these five games are must-sees.
5. Softball plays two against Utah in its home opener.
On Feb. 20, the Lions will host a doubleheader against the University of Utah. After kicking off the season with two tournaments on the road, the Lions will return home to Smith Field to take on a top-ranked Utah team that only recently fell out of ESPN.com’s Top 25. The last time the Lions played Utah was in 2013, and they lost 9-3.
4. Baseball hosts University of Southern California (USC).
It has become an annual occurrence for LMU, but whenever these rivals square off against one another, it’s a must-watch. Last year, the Lions split their series with USC, losing at home 4-3 and winning on the road 8-0. This year, the Lions play host to USC on March 14, and I would expect to see yet another classic matchup between these two teams.
3. Softball takes on last year’s top team in the conference.
In recent years, the West Coast Conference (WCC) has been dominated by Brigham Young University (BYU). Going 12-3 last season, BYU will travel to Smith Field to take on LMU, Slast year’s second ranked team in the WCC. In 2016, the Lions were able to win the series on the road against BYU, but this year, the three-game set returns to Smith Field, beginning on April 7.
2. Baseball squares off against its top-ranked conference rival.
BYU led the WCC a year ago, going 18-9 in conference play, but heading into 2017, Gonzaga, who also went 18-9 last season, is the top-ranked team in the conference. The NCAA has the Bulldogs ranked as the No. 33 team in the nation entering the new year. The Lions were swept by the Bulldogs in 2016, but this year, they’ll be heading to Washington to play a weekend series against Gonzaga, beginning May 12.
1. Softball goes up against the reigning champs.
Last year, the University of Oklahoma defeated Auburn to take home the College World Series title. Entering 2017, the Sooners are the No. 4 ranked team in the nation, and they’ll travel to LMU to take on the Lions at Smith Field on March 16. The Lions haven’t played Oklahoma since 2014, when they were defeated 11-1 in just five innings.
If all goes well for the Lions, both baseball and softball will be participating in the WCC Championship Tournament in late May. Baseball has been to the NCAA Championship Tournament a total of eight times in school history, while softball has made an appearance only twice. Neither baseball nor softball has ever won an NCAA championship.
This is the opinion of Evan Biancardi, a communication studies major from Merrick, New York. Tweet comments to @LoyolanSports, or email email@example.com.