softball; CC vs Argos (copy)

Carroll College’s Taylor Ostwald snags a ground ball and throws out the Great Falls player at first base during a game last season at Centennial Park.

Gary Marshall, BMGphotos.com

The Carroll College softball team begins the season Thursday, a day earlier than anticipated, in the So Cal Classic at Big League Dreams in West Covina, California.

The Saints were originally scheduled to begin Friday, but heavy rain is in the forecast and tournament was moved up a day.

The Saints begin play Thursday against Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) at 2 p.m. local time before playing Marymount California at 6 p.m. and Vanguard at 8 p.m. Friday, the Saints are scheduled to play La Sierra at 10 a.m. and Arizona Christian at noon before closing out the tournament against Antelope Valley Saturday at noon.

The lineup will be a tough one for the Saints. Carroll has yet to even practice outside this season, while every opponent already has games under their belts. The team had a practice day built into the travel schedule, but the changes have eliminated the extra day.

"This will be the first year that we have not been on dirt before our first games and with the schedule changes we will be thrown right into the fire and playing right away," coach Aaron Jackson said. "This team is used to handling adversity, and I believe we will respond and have a great start to our season."

Carroll returns the bulk of a lineup that went 24-22 in 2016, just the second year in program history. Breakout offensive star Tianna Sell is back in the lineup for the Saints as is No. starting pitcher Megan Gipe. The opening weekend is a chance to see what the Saints can do.

"The field is loaded with some of the best teams in the country, and we are excited to see where we stack up against these strong teams," Jackson said. "We are excited to get the 2017 season started. The team has been working hard and is ready to get out on the dirt and compete."

Embry-Riddle is 0-5 on the year, having given up 45 runs while only scoring six. The Saints played ERAU once in 2016 and ran away with an 8-0 win.

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Marymount is 1-1 on the season after splitting with Occidental College. Nicole Barrow leads Marymount with six hits on seven at-bats.

Vanguard is 3-1 on the year with a win over Cal State San Marcos and two wins and a loss to Claremont Mudd Scripps. Summer Penner leads the Lions with a .455 batting average over 11 at-bats.

La Sierra is 5-4-1 on the year. Sleigh Andrea has seven RBIs on 11 hits and a .407 batting average. Sarai Camacho has a 1.02 ERA and is 2-2 in the circle for La Sierra.

Arizona Christian is 3-1 on the year and is 10th in the nation in batting average. Ten Firestorm players have batting averages over .350, and Anely Marcella has a perfect .000 ERA and a 1-0 record.

Antelope Valley is 0-8 on the year and has given up 82 runs on the season.

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