#11 LSU Softball 2014 Preview

LSU Tigers

Overall Rank: #11
Conference Rank: #5 SEC
#11 LSU Softball 2014 Preview
LSU Team Page


Two shutout losses to Louisiana-Lafayette in the regionals derailed the LSU Tigers hopes of a second straight trip to the World Series under Coach Beth Torina. LSU finished atop the regular season SEC West with a conference clip of 15-8, an overall record of 42-16, a then #9 national ranking and a host seeding in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers finished the year ranked #16.

2013: 42-16, 15-8
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Beth Torina, 3rd year

Field Players:
With all position-playing starters other than the catcher returning, the Tigers defense and batting order are intact. Centerfielder A. J. Andrews is the catalyst for the offense, leading Torina’s troops in hitting (.359), at-bats (198), runs (47), hits (71), doubles (9), triples (2) and stolen bases (19). Andrews was named First Team All-SEC while Shortstop Bianka Bell was named Freshman of the Year, and to the conference second team along with now-senior left fielder Jacee Blades. Blades finished with a .354 batting average, and Bell with team highs of 50 RBIs, 12  home runs, .595 Slugging percentage and 103 total bases. Senior Alison Falcon will once again patrol second base, sophomore Sandra Simmons will again play first base, and Tammy Ray returns to third after starting 57 games last year. Kellsi Kloss is a sophomore who split time between Designated Player and Catcher.

2013 ace Rachel Fico has graduated and backup Meghan Patterson has left the team (though eligible), leaving Ashley Czechner as LSU’s lone returning pitcher. Czechner, who last year transferred in from 2012 NJCAA national champion Chattanooga, posted a 12-1 record, a 2.64 ERA and had 85 strikeouts in 19 appearances in her first year with the Tigers. Of her 15 starts, she completed ten games and overall held opponents to a .202 batting average. Czechner will need to improve on giving up the long ball (13) and free passes (35 walks, 15 hit by pitches), but has the inside track on being Torina’s main arm in the circle. Kelsee Selman, an NFCA All-American, and two-time Louisiana Miss Softball Baylee Corbello will have the chance to earn innings as LSU looks to secure the circle’s future when Czechner graduates later this year.

What to Watch:
Run production. The Tigers finished 2013 ranked 68th nationally among Division I teams at 4.90 runs per game and 109th in home runs with just 40. With Fico gone, the more times the plate gets crossed, the better, especially considering LSU’s conference tournament early elimination in a 7-0 loss to Georgia, and the season ending two shutouts to ULL. Also keep an eye on the freshmen. LSU landed four of College Sports Madness’ top 50 prep players (see Recruits below) and what impact they have will show in the win/loss column.  Last year’s starting catcher Laura Houston has graduated, so freshman Sahvanna Jaquish may see time behind the plate to spell Kloss, or to win the job outright. Fellow frosh Bailey Landry, Constance Quinn and Layna Savoie will seek playing time and aid the offense.

Final Projection:
Assuming Czechner fills the bill as the ace, Andrews, Blades, Bell and company should keep the Tigers in the national championship conversation. Winning their way to the NCAA tournament via an SEC championship is a daunting task for any of the contenders, but even if they don’t, count on LSU to not only be in the field of 64 but to challenge once again to host a Regional.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: A.J. Andrews, CF, 198
Hits: A.J. Andrews, CF, 71
Home Runs: Bianka Bell, 12
RBIs: Bianka Bell, 50
Runs: A.J. Andrews, CF, 47
Stolen Bases: A.J. Andrews, CF, 19

Wins: Ashley Czechner, P, 12
Innings Pitched: Ashley Czechner, P, 98
Strikeouts: Ashley Czechner, P, 85
Saves: None

Madness 2014 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#6 Sahvanna Jaquish C/IF
#9 Baylee Corbello P/UTL
#23 Bailey Landry OF
#48 Kelsee Selman P


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