Category Archives: Sports

Softball begins quest for successful 2023 campaign

The softball program begins the 2023 campaign on Friday after recording the best season in school history in 2022.

2022 recap
The Saints boasted a 46-13 record in 2022 and qualified for the NAIA Softball Opening Round, where they won two games and eventually fell to the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. OLLU won 24 straight games from March 18-April 22. The squad was ranked fourth in the NAIA with 181 extra-base hits and batted .329 as a team. The Saints’ pitching rotation limited opponents to a .225 batting average and struck out 349 hitters.

Preseason ranking
The NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Preseason Poll placed the Saints at 15 out of 25 programs. Head Coach Bruce Lenington commented, “We think our team deserves to be nationally ranked, and we are going to pursue the top 10.” The Saints are ranked first in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll, with defending champions Texas A&M University-Texarkana (TAMUT) following in second place.

Coaching staff
Lenington returns for his fourth season at the helm. During his time at OLLU, Lenington has amassed an 83-45 overall record and a .775 winning percentage in RRAC play. Jody Armijo and Katrisha Arocha are back as assistant coaches.  

Nonconference schedule (numbers after school indicate series record).
The Saints start the season by hosting two tournaments. They welcome Central Baptist College (CBC) (1-2) and the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) (17-30) for the OLLU Classic from Feb. 3-4. OLLU will play CBC three times during the tournament. OLLU showcases another tournament the following weekend. The teams participating include Bethany College (2-0), Texas A&M University-San Antonio (TAMUSA) (7-1) and Midland University (3-2). The Saints face Midland three times and Bethany once.   

OLLU will play multiple nonconference games throughout the RRAC schedule. In a doubleheader, they face NCAA D2 Texas A&M University-Kingsville at home on Feb. 19. The Saints travel to Oklahoma City to face the defending NAIA champions Oklahoma City University (2-2) for two games on Feb. 24. They play a pair of games at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (0-2) on Feb. 25 and St. Mary’s University (0-5) on Feb. 28. OLLU hosts Schreiner University (SU) (15-2) in a doubleheader on March 4 and then closes nonconference competition at SU on April 5.

Conference schedule
The conference schedule consists of doubleheaders spread throughout the spring. OLLU opens conference competition at home against UHV on Feb. 18. They head to Austin, Texas, to play Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) (30-11) on March 7 and return home to host TAMUSA on March 11. The Saints then head to Louisiana for matchups against Louisiana Christian University (LCU) (1-1) on March 17 and Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) (2-0) on March 18.

The Saints host the University of the Southwest (USW) (39-13) on March 24 before heading for another road trip. The trip includes games against UHV on March 28, Jarvis Christian University (JCU) (15-5) on March 31, Texas College (TC) (32-3) on April 1 and TAMUSA on April 8. OLLU hosts HTU on April 11 and heads west to face USW on April 15. The Saints close the regular season with matchups at home against TAMUT (6-9) on April 21 and LSU-Alexandria (LSUA) (7-23) on April 22.

Returners
The Saints boast 12 seniors. Returners include Rebecca Duran, Jennifer Estrada, Joanna Gonzalez, Ariel Montgomery, Julissa Moreno, Madison Nunn, Angela Ramirez, Kristee Salas, Caitlin Terrazas, Cassandra Valdez and Deandra Vera. The seniors combined for a .286 batting average last season, and Montgomery drove in 52 RBIs. Valdez, who will play one more season after this one, earned RRAC Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year by boasting a 1.79 ERA and four complete-game shutouts.

Marissa Bradley, Eneli Garza and Kaili Luna return as juniors. Taylor Gage is the lone returner for the sophomore class. Garza committed only one error in centerfield throughout her 38 games last year. Bradley batted .283, while Luna had a perfect fielding percentage in right field.

Newcomers
OLLU welcomes five freshmen to the program. Texas natives Arianna Alejandro, Allison Garcia, Alyssa Garcia, Ariana Garcia and Emilia Salinas begin their Saints career on Feb. 3. MacKenzie Purcell joins the team as a graduate student, and senior Madison Garza arrives after playing at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Juniors Alyssa Flores and Allie Gonzales were recruited over the summer. Flores comes from NCAA D2 St. Mary’s University, while Gonzales transfers from RRAC opponent JCU. Lenington commented, “Allie Gonzales garnered votes for pitcher of the year as a freshman last season with Jarvis. She beat us twice, and we are happy to have her here.”

Fan expectations
The staff has made multiple improvements over the last few seasons to the OLLU Softball Field. The Saints are proud to offer shaded seating for fans this year. Field improvements include a new padded wall that surrounds the backstop. Live streaming will be available at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/ollusaints/.

Saints upset No.23-ranked LSU-Shreveport 87-85

The men’s basketball team stole a win at No. 23-ranked LSU-Shreveport (LSUS) 87-85 on Jan. 19. The Saints improve to 11-8 overall and 6-5 in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). The Pilots drop to 14-5 overall and 8-3 in RRAC competition.

Head Coach Chris Dial commented, “This was a great win for our team and our program. The team showed a lot of grit tonight and I’m proud of them. Playing at LSU-Shreveport isn’t an easy place to grab a win.”

History
The Saints were 10-13 against the Pilots prior to the game.

Basics
The Saints defeated an NAIA Top 25 team for the first time since 2019. Both programs shot over 45 percent from the field in the first half. The Saints were solid from three-point range at 57.1 percent shooting and forced nine turnovers by the Pilots. Rob Gil had double-digit points at halftime and Tommie Law added four rebounds.

Shreveport’s three-point lead at halftime slowly deteriorated. The Saints tied the game six minutes into the second half and there were multiple lead changes as the frame went on. OLLU rallied to lead by six points with under three minutes left. The Pilots tallied four quick points to cut the advantage to one point. The game was tied with four seconds remaining when Law made a layup assisted by Gil. Shreveport missed a game-winning three point shot at the buzzer and the Saints held on for the victory.

Offensive/defensive standouts
Law led the Saints with 24 points. Law also grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Gil led the team with four assists.

Jalen Brooks led LSUS with 23 points. Brooks and Tyler Washington grabbed a team-high six rebounds each. Brooks and Jordan DeCuir finished with two assists apiece.

Inside the box
OLLU combined for 26-of-44 shooting for 59.1 percent, 8-of-13 from three-point range for 61.5 percent and 27-of-32 from the free-throw line for 84.4 percent. LSUS shot 28-of-52 for 53.8 percent, 9-of-19 three pointers for 47.4 percent and 20-of-34 from the free-throw line for 58.8 percent.

The Saints grabbed 20 rebounds while Shreveport collected 26.

Up next
The Saints face Texas College at home on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Saints baseball back in action as the 2023 season begins on Jan. 27

The baseball team embarks on its ninth season starting on Friday. Matt Piker takes over the reins after joining the program in 2021 as assistant coach.

2022 recap
The Saints finished with a 30-24 overall record last season. They posted a 21-11 mark in Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) competition and lost to the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) in the conference tournament to conclude the season. Piker filled the head coaching vacancy in early fall after Bryan Aughney left for a position in the Rio Grande Valley.

Staff
Former player Ryan Chapa joins Piker for the upcoming campaign. Chapa was named assistant coach in September after garnering multiple awards during his four years of playing. Josh Colunga was added to the coaching staff as a student assistant, and Adrian Gonzalez joined as a volunteer assistant. Both Colunga and Gonzalez previously played for the Saints as well. Cristopher Robinson returns for his ninth year as chaplain. Piker said, “My next move was to be in a head coaching position. Coach Aughney did a tremendous job of teaching me the program’s day-to-day operations.”

Nonconference schedule (Numbers after school indicate all-time records.) OLLU begins the season by hosting No. 19-ranked University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (7-11) on Jan. 27-28. The schedule remains difficult the following weekend as No. 14-ranked Central Methodist University (6-12) arrives in San Antonio from Feb. 3-4. The Saints complete the first homestand by facing Ottawa University on Feb. 8 and Bethany College from Feb. 10-11. Piker commented, “We schedule these tough games because our goal is to be relevant at the national level.”

The Saints face two other nonconference opponents amid the RRAC schedule. The squad faces NCAA D2 St. Mary’s University (3-8) on the road on Feb. 21 and March 28. OLLU hosts NCAA D3 Schreiner University (1-1) on April 11 at 6 p.m.

Conference schedule
The first two series of conference play are on the road for the Saints. They face UHV (23-14) in Victoria, Texas, from Feb. 17-18 and Texas College (23-2) in Tyler, Texas, from Feb. 24-25. The Saints return home to battle LSU-Shreveport (8-20) from March 3-4 and Texas A&M University-Texarkana (11-12) from March 10-11.

The Saints set out for four consecutive away series starting against Louisiana Christian University (2-1) from March 17-18. OLLU heads to Hawkins, Texas, next to play Jarvis Christian University (13-13) from March 24-25. LSU-Alexandria (12-14) hosts OLLU from April 7-8. The Generals won the RRAC Tournament last season to advance to the NAIA World Series. The Saints head back south for a three-game series against Huston-Tillotson University (17-2) in Austin, Texas, from April 14-15.

The last two series of the regular season are at home against Xavier University of Louisiana (3-1) from April 21-22 and the University of Southwest (18-9) from April 28-29.

Newcomers
The freshmen class consists of Vincent Banda, Will Eudy, Donovan Gamez, Jackson Kalisky, Chase Roberts, Roman Rodriguez, Matthew Sanchez, Diego Zuniga and Victor Zuniga. The transfer athletes are Dominique Boggs, Samuel Brown, Criztian Delgado, Chase Dunn, and Caimyn Holiday.

Returners
The Saints welcome back six sophomores. Devin Benavides, Brandon Betancourt, Christopher Perez, Hector Rogerio III, Anthony Valle and Jimmy Valle round out the class. The junior squad includes Jonathan LaCourse, Christian Martinez and D’Artagnan Perez-Padron.

OLLU welcomes back multiple veterans to the team. The senior leaders are Eric Cervantes, Javier De Alejandro, Sebastian Ledezma, Ram Maldonado, Alec Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Joshua Mendez, Pablo Montante, Jacob Montejano, John B. Ortega II, Noah Rodriguez, Tyler Vivier and Alejandro Ybarra.

Vivier and Montejano both hit above .300 last season. Noah Rodriguez led the team with 17 steals, and Francisco Martinez added 36 RBIs. Betancourt was named conference Freshman of the Year, while Montejano received Gold Glove recognition and was the team’s Champions of Character winner.

Academics
Piker is proud of his team’s accomplishments in the classroom. The team has consistently won NAIA Scholar Team recognition, earning a GPA of 3.0 and above. Those earning GPAs of 3.0 and above include Brandon Betancourt, Javier De Alejandro, Christian Martinez, Joshua Mendez, Pablo Montante, Jacob Montejano, John B. Ortega II, Christopher Perez, Noah Rodriguez, Hector Rogerio III and Alejandro Ybarra.

Fan expectations
Saints fans will be greeted with new additions to the coaching staff and numerous fresh faces on the team. Piker said, “I hope we can put a good product out on the field for the fans. We have fans beyond family ties, and they are passionate and care about Saints baseball.” The Saints home games will be live-streamed on https://portal.stretchinternet.com/ollusaints/.

Indoor track and field teams participate in FasTrak in Houston

The men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams participated in the FasTrak Collegiate Opener on Jan. 21, hosted by the University of Houston.

The men’s team had 27 members participate in track events and six in field events.

Head Coach Patrick Torres commented, “It was not the day we were hoping for, but definitely some good signs coming from this meet. Our triple jumpers nearly broke school records on the same day is phenomenal. It was a good momentum for us as we get to the end of indoor season.”

View results for men’s team.

The women’s team had 13 members run track and two participated in field events.

Coach Torres commented, “The women’s team is definitely improving. I think we’ll have some great momentum closing indoor and moving into the outdoor season. It was good to see some heat wins and some people making it into finals.”

View results for the women’s team.

Trevino’s career-high lifts Saints to 76-64 victory

The women’s basketball team raced past the University of the Southwest (USW) 76-64 on Jan. 14. The Saints improve to 12-6 overall and 9-2 in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). The Lady Mustangs fall to 3-13 overall and 1-9 in RRAC play.

Head Coach Tanya Ray said, “Today was a good day for us offensively in that we were able to shoot the ball well from three-point range. We also did a good job of keeping our composure and answering every time they went on a run.”

History
The Saints were 23-1 against the Lady Mustangs prior to the game.

Offensive/defensive standouts
Natalia Trevino led the team with a career-high 32 points. The last time a Saints player scored 32 points in a game was in 2011. Tiffany Lopez had a team-high 11 rebounds and added 16 points for a double-double. Carrie Barrera-Lacy finished with six assists.

Tamaria White led Southwest with 20 points. Sierra Smith grabbed 24 rebounds for the Lady Mustangs. Kenedi Tanks and White had two assists each.

Inside the box
OLLU combined for 27-of-63 shooting for 42.9 percent, 11-of-20 from three-point range for 55 percent and 11-of-14 from the three-throw line for 78.6 percent. Southwest shot 25-of-68 for 36.8 percent, 3-of-18 three pointers for 16.7 percent and 11-of-18 from the free-throw line for 61.1 percent.

The Saints grabbed 40 rebounds while Southwest collected 42.

Up next
The Saints play at LSU-Shreveport on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Two Saints men set records at Indoor Track and Field’s Hilton Memorial Invitational

The men’s indoor track and field team participated in the University of Houston’s Leonard Hilton Memorial Invitational at the Yeoman Fieldhouse on Jan. 13.

Head Coach Patrick Torres commented, “This meet was an awesome evaluation of what our winter break training looked like away from campus. I’m proud of the school records and overall accomplishments and we’ll take what we learned here and modify our training accordingly.”

Victor Delos-Santos broke the OLLU school record in the shot put with a 11.55 mark. In addition, Jalen Bell set the school’s record in the 60m with a time of 7.04.

See full results on the Saints Athletics website.

Nadia Sifuentes sets OLLU record at Hilton Memorial Invitational

The women’s indoor track and field team participated in the University of Houston’s Leonard Hilton Memorial Invitational at the Yeoman Fieldhouse on Jan. 13.

Head Coach Patrick Torres commented, “We weren’t as sharp as I would have hoped for coming off of winter break. But it’s a good lesson for our athletes to learn. Preparation over winter is everything. That being said, we had a school record and some good performances that I’m proud of and am excited to build off of.”

Nadia Sifuentes set the OLLU school record in the 800m with a time of 2:27.54.

See full results on the Saints Athletics website.

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