Softball to Open SEC Tournament at Tiger Park
BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 8 LSU softball team opens play at the 2015 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament on Thursday afternoon as the fourth seed, facing fifth-seeded Tennessee at 5:30 p.m. CT at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge.
LSU is the host site for the league’s marquee event that kicks off the postseason, hosting the tournament for the second time in program history and first time in the new Tiger Park. The last time was in 2008, the final year of the old park.
“We’re so honored and excited to be hosting the SEC tournament this year, as we will get to showcase some of the best softball in the nation this week,” head coach Beth Torina said. “The tournament means it’s a brand-new season and every game counts, which helps us get into the mindset of postseason play and bringing our best out every time we step on the field.”
The Tigers have participated in every SEC tournament since softball was brought back to campus in 1997, making it a run of 19 trips in all. LSU is 37-18 all-time in the SEC tournament, winning that 37th game last year to end a streak of three consecutive losses in the team’s opening postseason game, earning a 6-0 win over Missouri, before falling to eventual Women’s College World Series participant Kentucky in extras in the next game.
LSU enters the tournament 44-10 overall on the season, winning 40 games under Torina for the third time, while also winning at least 15 SEC games for the third time under the fourth-year head coach, finishing with a 15-9 mark in league play. Although the squad is coming off of two series losses to close the year, the Tigers return to action after earning a 7-1 win in the regular season finale against Auburn last Sunday at home.
The Tigers are hitting .344 as a team so far this season, featuring seven starters hitting .300 and above heading into its first game on Thursday. In the circle, LSU features a four-member staff that combines for an earned run average of 1.78, with 18 shutouts, an opponent batting average of .205 and 366 strikeouts among them.
On Tuesday morning, the conference announced its All-SEC teams and superlative awards, as LSU earned eight spots on the various conference teams, highlighted by four on the first team and two on the second team.
Landing on the first team was freshman pitcher Carley Hoover, followed by junior catcher Kellsi Kloss, junior infielder Bianka Bell and sophomore designated player/utility selection Sahvanna Jaquish. Jaquish is a first team All-SEC selection for the second-straight year, becoming the first player since Kirsten Shortridge in 2010-11 to repeat on the first team, while Bell, Hoover and Kloss make the first team cut for the first time.
The All-SEC second team features two outfield Tigers, led by senior A.J. Andrews in one spot and sophomore Bailey Landry earning the other. Along with being a first team selection, Hoover was one of two LSU players to be selected to the 15-player Freshman All-SEC team, along with teammate and outfielder Emily Griggs.
Rounding out the group on the nine-member SEC All-Defensive Team, holding down the spot at first base is junior infielder Sandra Simmons.
It’s the first time since 2000 that an LSU team has had four players earn first-team honors, two players shy of the all-time record of six set back during the 1999 season. The six between the first and second team slots is tied for the fourth most all-time, while it is also the most since 2004, with seven being the program best which has been set three times.
For the third-straight year, multiple Tigers have been selected to the freshman list, as since 2012 LSU has had eight players selected to the first-year list, while Simmons becomes just the sixth LSU player to be named to the defensive team, and first since Ashley Langoni in 2012 and the first at first base.
Earlier this season, the Tigers took two of three in Knoxville, winning its first ever series there.
LSU finished the regular season 32-3 at home this year, looking to claim its sixth SEC tournament title in program history. On the same side of the bracket is No. 1 seed Florida, who also received a bye and will play the winner of South Carolina and Texas A&M Thursday afternoon. On the top half, No. 2 seed Auburn will face Missouri, who defeated Mississippi State, while No. 3 seed Alabama will take on Georgia, who defeated Ole Miss.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger softball, visit www.lsusports.net/softball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball along with @lsusoftball and @BethTorina on Twitter and @lsusb on Instagram.