CU faces tough slate to begin 2020
For Immediate Release
January 30, 2020
Cameron University Athletics
Kenton Means - Sports Information Director
LAWTON, Okla. – The No. 15 ranked Aggie softball team gets their 2020 season underway with the Arkansas Tech Classic in Conroe, Texas which will feature a pair of top-25 matchups for the Black and Gold.
G1 - No. 1 Augustana | Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. | Live Stats
G2 - Minnesota Duluth | Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. | Live Stats
G3 - Harding | Feb. 1 at 12:30 p.m. | Live Stats
G4 - No. 7 Central Oklahoma | Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. | Live Stats
G5 - Pittsburg State | Feb. 2 at 12:30 p.m. | Live Stats
The Aggies turned in an impressive 2019 season, that saw them win 37 games on their way to a berth in the South Central Super Regional. This preseason they have garnered a ton of attention, being ranked 15th nationally and tabbed No. 4 in the Lone Star Conference preseason poll. The hype will be put to the test this weekend as the ATU event pits the Aggies against the number No. 1 and No. 7 ranked teams in the nation. The team doesn't lack the confidence needed heading into the weekend and embraces the challenge "What better way to start off the season than with the number one ranked team?" first-year head coach Kayla Adams asked.
Cameron returns a talented group and welcome in six highly touted newcomers. Add them to a group that already returns two All-Americans, six All-LSC selections, and a total of 10 returners, and the Aggies are set to build on last year's successful season.
The Aggies will need their bats to come alive this weekend, which shouldn't be a problem with a roster that returns six hitters who earned a .300 batting average or better, including Raley Long. The do-it-all Swiss Army knife for the Aggies posted a .302 batting average with ten extra-base hits, 17 RBIs, and scoring 23 runs for the explosive CU offense. Her versatility will be huge for the Aggies as she can fill in the outfield or around the infield throughout 2020.
Long and her fellow seniors (Brenna Busby, Callie Busby, Bethany Hines, Kaylyn Smith, and Turner Whorton) will look to lead an Aggie squad that is in their first year of the Adams era at Cameron. B. Busby is DII's active leader in homers (44) and totaled a NCAA-high 19 just a year ago. C. Busby provided the walk-off homer that punches CU's ticket to last season's super regional and has caught every game since she stepped onto campus as a freshman. Hines is just one win shy of the program record of 56 and will lead a CU rotation the includes Whorton, sophomore Breley Webb, and newcomer Anna Hammer. Smith, a third team All-LSC selection a year ago, is a burner in the outfield and on the base paths as the senior ranks third in the CU record books in stolen bases with 47.
Up first, the Black and Gold will get put to the test with topped ranked Augustana, who won the DII national championship a year ago. The champion Vikings return their entire starting rotation that broke NCAA records in 2019 with 61 wins, and a batting average against of .197. For context, the 2019 Aggie lineup produced a team batting average of .317. The two teams met up in the same tournament last season, with Auggie taking the matchup 4-1.
The reigning NSIC Freshman of the year, Mary Pardo, will look to build on her first season with the Vikings. At the dish, the outfielder from Andover, Min. posted a slash line of .354/.419/.663 while starting all 72 of the Vikings contests on their march to a title. Pardo doesn't lack power, slugging 17 home runs in her freshman campaign, just two shy of the team high.
Kara McDougall, a senior outfielder, turned in the highest batting average for Augustana last season, hitting .444. She drove in 23 runs while scoring 33 runs of her own.
Friday morning will be a great table-setter for the rest of the weekend. The Aggies will conclude Friday by facing Minnesota Duluth, who they battled in a nail biter to start this annual classic a year ago; CU won that contest 2-1. The Bulldogs went on to finish with a 33-22 record and ended their season in the regional round.
The Bulldogs are slotted to finish 4th in the NSIC preseason poll, with a roster that features 11 returners under their fifth-year head coach Jen Walter. Brenna Swint is the girl to watch in the circle for the Bulldogs, as she turned in a 2.77 ERA in 2019.
Saturday's slate starts with a matchup against Harding, who missed out on the postseason a year ago after earning a 35-23 record. The Lady Bison are pegged for second in the GAC preseason poll, tying for the honors with the host school, Arkansas Tech. All three of the Lady Bison who earned All-GAC honors a year ago return to the fold in 2020.
The Lady Bison are led in the circle by one of those all-conference getters in Jenna Hipp. The sophomore hurler shot from the hip in 2019 to the tune of 96 strikeouts and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Cameron's second day in Conroe wraps up the same way day one started, with a ranked matchup, this time against the No. 7 ranked University of Central Oklahoma, who were voted first in the MIAA preseason rankings.
This stacked CU lineup will face another tough pitcher in the circle in Bailey McKittrick. The sophomore earned pitcher of the year honors for her conference a year ago, as she turned in a 26-5 record to the tune of a 2.11 ERA.
At the plate, the Bronchos are led by Hazel Puempel. The senior outfielder who returns to her home state of Texas for this matchup earned a .393 average, slapped 17 doubles and six home runs in 2019. Puempel broke the UCO program record for walks in a season with 46 a year ago and found herself on the third team All-American roster after her junior season.
Puempel won't be the only UCO stick the Aggies need to work around as Lexy Dobson boasts a near .400 batting average from last season, with 10 doubles and 33 RBI. The Tulsa, Okla. native was second team all-conference a year ago for the Bronchos.
Saturday's matchup will be the first of two between the in-state rivals as CU and UCO will square off again at the UCO/OC Invitational on Feb. 21.
The opening weekend wraps up for the Aggies on Sunday against the Pittsburg State Gorillas, which will be the first of three meetings against PSU this season. The Gorillas finished under .500 in 2019 and look to bounce back in 2020. They were picked 8th in the MIAA preseason poll, with a roster that features five returning starters from a year ago.
Pittsburg State got the best of the Aggies in their lone 2019 matchup, winning 5-3. In that contest, Makenzi Goswick went 2-for-2, with a run scored to lift the PSU offense. She went on to post a season batting average of .311, with eight home runs, ten doubles, and 32 RBI.
Next up for the Black and Gold will be the first leg of the UCO/OC invitational that starts on Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. against Southwest Baptist in Edmond, Okla.
Kenton Means, ‘15
Sports Information Director - Cameron University
2800 W. Gore Blvd., South Shepler 512
Lawton, OK 73505
Office – (580) 581-2303
Cell – (580) 583-2210
Fax – (580) 581-5537