#8 LSU Softball Preview

LSU Tigers

Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
LSU College Softball Top 44 Team Preview
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In just her first year at the helm of the LSU Tigers, Coach Beth Torina led the team to their third College World Series.  The 2012 version of the Tigers had its offensive challenges, but in the circle was among the tops in the country with the 12th ranked ERA (1.58) nationally and second in the SEC.  The 1-2 punch of Rachele Fico and Brittany Mack collected 36 of LSU’s 40 wins last season.  LSU was an upperclassman heavy club in 2012, but does return 13 letter winners.  Coach Torina talked about the composition of her team, “With the departure of seven seniors there will be a lot of new faces for LSU softball.  We are really excited about this group, their ability and their potential to be great.  A lot of the newcomers have raised the bar for this program and our returners have worked hard in the off season to truly improve.”  A schedule that is sure to be one of the toughest in the country awaits the Tigers.  Coach Torina has planned 37 games against 20 foes that made the NCAA Tournament last year.  Besides the gauntlet that is the SEC, the bunch from Baton Rouge will face off against Arizona, UCLA, North Carolina, Tulsa, BYU, Michigan, Oregon and Florida State.

2012: 40-25, 15-13
2012 Postseason: NCAA (Women’s College World Series)
Coach: Beth Torina, 2nd Season

Field Players:
Sophomores A.J. Andrews and Simone Heyward return for the Tigers.  Coach Torina is high on both, “Adding to the speed of our lineup we return two outfielders, AJ Andrews and Simone Heyward.  Both made the SEC all freshmen team their first year at LSU.  Both will be great base stealers and run scorers for us this season.  Also they cover so much ground in the outfield, they will really help to contribute to a solid defense.”  The speedy Andrews started 49 games in 2012, had three triples and stole 15 bases.  Heyward stole nine bases in limited action last spring.

Coach Torina knows that LSU will go based on how her senior hurler Fico goes.  But she has confidence, “Rachele Fico returns off her All-American season.  She has already proven to be one of the best in college softball but she has worked extremely hard this off season to continue to improve and develop other areas of her game.”  Fico finished with a 20-13 record, a solid 1.12 ERA and fanned 221 in her 230.1 innings of work.  All four stats were among the best six in the league.  Torina expounded on the rest of her staff, “Fico will continue to lead our staff.   Meghan Patterson returns to the staff as well.  She has pitched behind Mack and Fico the past two years but is ready for her opportunity.  She is a very talented player that has a lot of weapons on the mound.  We also have a transfer that will contribute a lot as well, Ashley Czechner.  She won the JUCO National Championship and was the national pitcher of the year for Chattanooga State.”

Who to Watch:
Coach Torina is counting on her newcomers.  She said, “Several freshmen will be big contributors.  Bianka Bell from Tampa, FL, will hit in the middle of our line up and could be one of the most talented freshmen in the SEC.  Sandy Simmons will see time at first base and will also contribute to the top of our lineup.  Kellsi Kloss, a catcher from California, will have an immediate impact to our battery.”  Bell is the reigning Florida Gatorade Player of the Year.  Simmons and Kloss played together on one of the top travel ball clubs in the country.  Simmons was number 61 on the 2012 ESPN Top 100 Recruit list.

Final Projection:
“I think we lost a great deal of leadership and experience with our senior class from 2012, but the experience of the World Series with those that did return, as well as the athleticism of the newcomers, will be a good combination.  I also think the way our team “hearted” their way to the WCWS is an amazing lesson to be learned for any team.  They now understand what is possible and I think that will go a long way,” Coach Torina said.  If the Tigers can dial up a little more offense in 2013, they will have a solid chance to compete for the SEC title and make another deep run into the NCAA tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Allison Falcon, IF, 143
Hits: Allison Falcon, IF, 36
Home Runs: Allison Falcon, IF, 3
RBIs: Allison Falcon, IF, 23
Runs: A.J. Andrews, OF, 20
Stolen Bases: A.J. Andrews, OF, 15

Wins: Rachele Fico, P, 20
Innings Pitched: Rachele Fico, P, 230.1
Strikeouts: Rachele Fico, P, 221
Saves: Rachele Fico, P, 1; Brittany Mack, P, 1

Madness 2013 NPF Draft Rankings:
#6 Rachel Fico

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#21 Bianka Bell
#79 Sandra Simmons
#105 Hailey Smith


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