LSU Softball is For Real

LSU Softball is For Real

There is still a lot left to the college softball season followed by Regional and Super Regional Competition.  And a lot can happen between now and the start of the regionals, but LSU could be a threat to win it all in OKC this year. Some might wonder if this is the year for LSU.

With its recent dismantling of defending national champion Florida (winning two of three games) and two-time champion Oklahoma, 1-0 and 10-2 (six innings), LSU has let the softball world know that this team is serious about its fortunes this year and shouldn't be taken  lightly. Neither Florida nor OU took the Tigers lightly, but LSU played the game at a high level to win four games from the defending champion and highly-ranked OU.

With two of three wins against previously No. 1 Florida , the Tigers jumped up two spots in the NFCA poll and one spot in the USA Softball poll, marking the first time ever since the program was started in 1979 and restarted in 1997 that an LSU team has been ranked No. 1 in either, much less both polls at the same time.

“There have been so many great players in this program’s history who have truly helped in building LSU softball and paving the way for this ranking and the success of this year’s team,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We have a special group of young women that truly understand the team concept and have worked hard to accomplish everything they have done so far this season. We are honored by the respect we have been shown for our accomplishments to this point; however, we have a clear understanding that there is still a long way to go in the 2015 season.”

If the Tigers continue on their merry way, they could eventually end up in Oklahoma City for the College World Series. In the history of the World Series, the Tigers have made two appearances, 2004 and 2001. In 2004, the Tigers went 3-2 in the WCWS and in 2001 they were 2-2.

Last year LSU compiled a 38-24 record and as of March 20th, the Tigers had achieved a 30-1 record with the only loss 4-3 to Florida in the opener of a three-game series to end the Tigers' 25 game win streak.

But as Torina said earlier, there is a long way to go in the 2015 season and she realizes her team must maintain its perspective and balance and  peak at the right time. That could be the case if the team advances to the College World Series in OKC. Unfortunately, some teams peak too early and never reach Oklahoma City and with it goes their dream of playing in the WCWS. The Tigers, who are undefeated at home, are playing the game at a high level and are getting the offense (team BA of .365), the defense (.968 fielding percentage) and pitching (opponents hitting only .186 with an ERA of 1.33). The Tigers have scored 243 times and allowed only 48 runs in the 31 games. What's impressive is LSU has scored 66 of those runs in the first inning, putting pressure on the opposition. They are undefeated in 24 games after leading after four innings and are 5-1 in the SEC. The pitching staff of Bayless Corbello, Allie Walljasper, Carley Hoover and Kelsee Selman have fanned 224 batters in 194.2 innings, allowing only 37 earned runs of the 48 total runs and only 11 homers. Corbello has the lowest ERA (1.18) with none of the others having earned run averages over 1.50, which is a good indication of the balance and depth of this staff.

Offensively, Bianka Bell (.561, 12 homers, 50 RBI's) and Bailey Landy (.467) are leading the team. A.J. Andrews trails them with a .463 average, with Kellisi Kloss rounding out the top four with a .360 BA. Bell was recently named SEC Player of the Week in leading wins over Nicholls and OU. This was the second time in consecutive weeks for her to win the honor while freshman hurler Hoover won the pitcher award for the first time. Through seven weeks of the season, an LSU player has earned one of the conference's weekly honors six times.

After helping lead LSU to a sweep of non-conference opponents in Nicholls and No. 6 Oklahoma, LSU junior infielder Bianka Bell repeated as the Southeastern Conference Softball Player of the Week, while pitcher Carley Hoover was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week the league announced Monday. This was the first time Hoover won this award, following in the footsteps of Walljasper, who won the award in the second week of the season.

With its undefeated home record, the Tigers also are attracting people to their games and are averaging 1,427 people for their 23 home games and for the season they are averaging 1,307 people per game. It's been the best start in the history of the LSU program, but it's not how you start the season, it's how you finish it. And for LSU they want to finish it in Oklahoma City with a national title.