Eagles to test their luck in Vegas

For the fourth consecutive year the Chadron State College softball team will open its season at the Desert Stinger Softball Tournament in Las Vegas hosted by Montana State University-Billings.

The Eagles, who were recently picked to finish 11th in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, are one of nine teams who have played the Desert Stinger since its inception in 2010.

Chadron State has a 2-13 record at the tourney. The Desert Stinger features 28 teams representing 14 states and one province and six conferences to make it the largest tournament in Division II.

Chadron State will play five games over three days, beginning with Northwest Nazarene and Cal Baptist on Friday, Feb. 8. The Eagles will then play Western Washington and Notre Dame De Namur on Saturday before closing out the tournament against Western Oregon on Sunday.

"We want to start the season with confidence," said Rob Stack, who is entering his sixth season as the Eagles' head coach. "It's nice to play different teams in this tournament we haven't previously played. We hope to be able to figure out what our best lineup will be following this tournament so that when conference games come around, we'll be ready to go."

Cal Baptist, which was projected to win the Pacific West Conference this preseason, is the only team the Eagles are facing who had a winning record in 2012. The Lancers went 49-6 a season ago and didn't lose a game in the Desert Stinger in 2012.

The Eagles' four remaining opponents all had records below .500 last year. Northwest Nazarene went 8-37, Western Washington was 17-36, Notre Dame De Namur was 25-32 and Western Oregon was 23-26.

Chadron State ended the 2012 campaign with a 17-32 record, including a 14-24 mark in the RMAC. The Eagles return five starters and eight letter winners.

Among the returners is Katie Londo, a hard-hitting third baseman from Colorado Springs. In 49 games last season, Londo paced the Eagles' lineup with a .354 batting average and belted 12 home runs and drove in 50 runs.

Nikki Ritzen, a senior outfielder from Chadron, also returns. She hit .337 a season ago and stole a team-high eight bases.

Other starters returning for the Eagles are catcher Ashlynn Marino, first baseman Amy Schartz and Danielle L'Argent at second base.

The Eagles also bring back pitcher Aryn Grywusiewicz, who went 6-14 in the circle last season.

Following the tournament in Las Vegas, the Eagles will take two weeks off before playing a four-game series with Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Chadron State's first home games will be a pair of doubleheaders against the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs March 2-3.

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