#5 LSU Softball 2016 Preview

LSU Tigers
Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
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The Tigers are coming off of the program's fourth trip to the College World Series, one that saw them finish in third place last season. LSU brings back seven everyday starters and three pitchers in 2016 and included in that group is the team's five All-Americans from last season. Is another trip to the WCWS on the docket for the 2016 Tigers?
2015: 52-14, 15-9
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Beth Torina
Field Players:
Seven everyday starters return to a potent Tiger lineup that scored 428 runs and outscored its opponents by nearly a 4:1 ratio. Bianca Bell, one of the team's five All-Americans last season, returns after blasting 18 home runs, 19 doubles and driving in 73 runs. Bell set a lot of records last season, including most home runs in a single season, most career home runs (44), total bases in a year (162), runs scored in a single season (70) and slugging percentage in a single season (.790). Bailey Landry, another returning All-American, led the squad in hitting (.426) and hits (89). She hit 14 doubles and five triples and her 21-game hitting streak is a program record. Sahvanna Jaquish hit 17 bombs and drove in a team-leading 76 RBI en route to All-American honors. Kellsi Kloss also hit double-digit home runs with 13 long balls.
LSU brings back its top two pitchers from last season, Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper, both of whom earned All-American awards. Oh yeah...and they were both freshmen. Hoover finished with an 18-7 record with a 1.78 ERA, while Walljasper had a 16-5 mark with a 1.83 ERA. Walljasper also set an LSU freshmen mark by winning her first nine games of the season. Hoover struck out 174 batters and also tied the season record in saves with five, sharing that record with Rachele Fico.
Who to Watch:
What can the two pitchers do for encores? Will the college softball world be able to figure them out or will they continue their dominance? One player that might help the rotation out will be incoming freshman Sydney Smith. Smith won the last two Gatorade Player of the Year awards in Minnesota and was a MaxPreps First Team All-American last year. Another freshman, Shemiah Sanchez, finished her high school career as the holder of 15 individual season and career school records combined, hitting .439 for her career with 177 hits, 133 runs and 131 RBI and was a member of Team Puerto Rico this summer.
Final Projection:
With so many star players returning, it is hard to not see the Tigers getting back to Oklahoma City in 2016. The pieces are in place, with power hitting and impressive pitching returning. Can all those Tigers play like they did last year will be the question. The Tigers will see some stiff competition at the Mary Nutter Classic, when they face off with Arizona, UCF and UCLA. The SEC schedule is manageable as well, as LSU gets Alabama, Florida and Kentucky at home, but does have to travel to Texas A&M and Georgia. The Tigers actually start off the SEC season with those five teams in order, starting with Alabama. Because of the tough early SEC schedule, the Tigers will know where they stand in the conference really quickly.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Bailey Landry, OF, 209
Hits: Bailey Landry, OF, 89
Home Runs: Bianka Bell, IF, 18
RBIs: Sahvanna Jaquish, C/IF, 76
Runs: Bianka Bell, IF, 70
Stolen Bases: Bailey Landry, OF, 8
Wins: Carley Hoover, P, 18
Innings Pitched: Carley Hoover, P, 169
Strikeouts: Carley Hoover, P, `74
Complete Games: Carley Hoover, P, 15
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#15 Sydney Smith
#50 Shemiah Sanchez
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#10 Bianka Bell