Black Her-Story: LSU Softball Stories – Bianka Bell, One of the Greatest Hitters in Purple & Gold
BATON ROUGE, La. – Bianka Bell is a name that is forever cemented in LSU softball history. Bell played four seasons for the Tigers and earned back-to-back NFCA All-American status at two different positions in 2015 and 2016. In those two seasons, the Tigers had back-to-back third place finishes in the Women’s College World Series (WCWS).
Bell grew up in Tampa, Florida and arrived at LSU in the fall of 2012. The moment she stepped on the field, Bell was an absolute stud. She won numerous awards early, including SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, and Louisiana Freshman of the Year in 2013 before taking her game to another level in 2015 and 2016.
In 2015 as a junior, Bell was named a NFCA First Team All-American as a shortstop after setting several single season records in LSU history that still stand today. Some of those include hitting 18 home runs, a .790 slugging percentage, scoring 70 runs, and collecting 162 total bases. She also hit .415 that season behind 85 hits and tallied 73 RBIs to rank No. 4, No. 5, and No. 3 in the single season record book, respectively.
The following season, Bell was just as productive at the plate, logging 72 hits, 60 runs, 62 RBIs, and 14 home runs to go along with a .381 batting average to claim her second All-American award as a third baseman. In 2016 Bell set another single season record with a .541 on-base percentage and drew 56 walks that ranks No. 2 in a season. LSU recorded consecutive 52-win seasons in 2015-16 and made consecutive WCWS appearances.
Bianka Bell is one of the most electric hitters in LSU history and is the program’s all-time leader in home runs (58), slugging percentage (.679), on-base percentage (.487), total bases (506) and runs scored (215). She ranks No. 2 all-time with 236 RBIs and 141 walks, No. 3 all-time with a .372 batting average, and No. No. 7 all-time with 277 hits.
“Being at LSU was the best four to five years of my life,” Bell said. “I did a lot of growing there. Being down in Baton Rouge was a big culture shock but they have a great family atmosphere. I enjoyed my teammates and coaching staff and had some of the greatest times of my life. I have a lot of fond memories being there and playing for LSU.”
Bell knows the challenges that can come with being an African American athlete and praises her teammates and coaching staff at LSU for their commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all players.
“One thing that I am super proud of, being an African American softball player at LSU is that Coach Beth (Torina) has done a tremendous job bringing in more athletes that look like me into the program,” Bell said. “I know her next recruiting class has about five or six African American girls. I think she has done an amazing job of keeping up with that and making sure that her teams are very culturally diverse. I think it says a lot about her as a coach and a human being and I’m just very proud to have represented LSU and be one of her athletes.”
After her senior season, Bell became a student coach for LSU under head coach Beth Torina while finishing her undergraduate degree. She helped the Tigers reach their third straight WCWS before graduating in 2017. That summer, Bell played in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch League for the USSSA Pride softball team based in Viera, Florida and Team USA. She traveled to Japan and all over Europe competing for Team USA.
Bell accepted her first full-time coaching position in 2018 as an assistant coach at Embry-Riddle, a Division II program located in Daytona Beach, Fla. She coached there for two and a half years before leaving during the pandemic to become a Division I coach at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She was at Quinnipiac for six months before being offered another job at the University of Pittsburgh where she currently is employed. The Pitt Panthers are off to a 6-3 start, already having knocked off then No. 21 Auburn on opening weekend.
During her time at LSU, there was one specific lesson Bell learned that would help her not only as a player, but as a coach. “One of the biggest things that always resonated with me is when Coach Beth said All-Americans take the stairs. To me, this means you need to do the extra work that sets you aside from everybody else. If you want to be an All-American, you have to do more challenging things. This is one thing I implement with all my girls. If you want to be at the next level, you’re going to have to do what other people don’t want to do.”