BATON ROUGE – The No. 13 LSU softball team concludes the March portion of its schedule and plays host to Samford for a Saturday doubleheader with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. at Tiger Park.
Both games of the twinbill will be broadcasted on Country Legends 104.9 FM by the LSU Sports Radio Network and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
It’s Mike’s Kids Club, Girls Scouts and East Baton Rouge Parish Day for “Kids Day at Tiger Park Beach,” a day of fun in the sun for kids and families with inflatables, games and much more. The first 750 fans will receive a pair of sunglasses.
LSU (28-7) has secured wins in 10 of its last 12 outings since March 10, but the Tigers will look to bounce back from a 12-5 setback to No. 25 South Alabama last time out.
Samford (10-18) is being led on the offensive end by Rachel Bickert’s .316 batting average, Callie Brister’s three home runs and Alex Adams’ 14 RBIs. The Bulldogs have lost three straight and eight of their last 10 outings without starting pitcher Mollie Hanson. Misha Aldridge and Shelby Scott have tallied three wins in her absence.
“We’re looking forward to getting back on the field after the performance we had on Wednesday against South Alabama,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Knowing what we have ahead of us during the month of April, it’s important that get back to the basics of playing Tiger softball and that starts versus Samford. We’ll need to have strong pitching performances, play solid defense and swing the bats extremely well every time we take the field to be able to reach our goals.”
LSU’s pitching staff will look to regain its form after being touched up for a season’s best 12 runs on a season-high 15 hits versus South Alabama. The staff has racked up 254 strikeouts, second-most in the SEC, on the season.
Rachele Fico has provided 161 of those strikeouts, tops on the SEC leaderboard. She is 16-5 and will look to end a two-game skid. The senior right-hander has already tossed nine shutouts and claimed a pair of SEC Pitcher of the Week awards this season.
Meghan Patterson has posted a 5-2 mark with a staff-low 1.72 ERA. In her last start, Patterson came away with seven strikeouts and threw 6.2 frames of four-hit ball against Southeastern Louisiana.
Ashley Czechner has won all seven of her decisions and been used both as a starter and in relief. Over her last three starts, Czechner has fired a pair of one-hit shutouts and limited the opposition to two runs on four hits in addition to a paltry .068 batting average.
Offensively, Bianka Bell has carried the load as of late. Over her last eight games, Bell has produced a .400 hitting clip with five home runs and 11 RBIs. She belted her first career grand slam during the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game at No. 25 South Alabama.
“Bianka is a special hitter, a really talented hitter,” Torina said. “We know that she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years with this program. It’s nice to see her start to do the things that she’s capable of doing.”
Jacee Blades has collected a team-leading .380 batting average. Her 41 hits not only lead the team but enter the weekend ranked ninth in the SEC. She has chipped in three of her team-high 11 multi-hit efforts over LSU’s last five games.
A.J. Andrews is second on the squad and has tallied a .325 hitting clip on 39 hits. She has crossed the plate a team-leading 24 times and gone a perfect 11-for-11 in the stolen base department.
Sandra Simmons heads into Saturday’s doubleheader on a career-high seven-game hitting streak, while Tammy Wray has had 12 of her 22 hits on the season produce a RBI. Wray’s seven homers and 21 RBIs rank second on the team.
Rikki Alcaraz has started 16 of LSU’s last 20 games and emerged as the primary option at designated player. She has registered an impressive .404 batting average and has added a RBI in five of her last eight appearances.
Every game of LSU softball this season will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program's social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.
The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open 90 prior to the first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12.