BATON ROUGE – The LSU softball team took its initial steps towards the 2014 season with its first spring practice Wednesday at Tiger Park. The Tigers started with an hour-long team lifting session before a three-hour workout under crisp and clear skies.
LSU broke into infield and outfield groups. The split practice enabled the infielders to take defense on the field while the outfielders worked on a number of hitting drills in the batting cage and vice versa. Both groups also took 30-minute sessions of live batting practice.
“As a coaching staff, we knew the players were going to be excited for the first day of practice,” assistant coach Howard Dobson said. “The players have been waiting for this day for a long time. They’ve spent a lot of time with conditioning workouts and in the weight room during the fall. They came out with great energy today in practice and hustled in and out of their positions. A big thing for successful softball teams is chemistry. This is a fun group that enjoys playing with each other. They spend a lot of time together not only on the field but off the field.”
The Tigers put together a 42-16 record during the 2013 campaign, the program’s 15th 40-win season since softball was reinstated in 1997.
LSU has 14 returning letterwinners highlighted by A.J. Andrews, an NFCA All-American Third-Team and All-SEC First-Team pick. Bianka Bell and Jacee Blades also represented the Tigers on the 2013 All-SEC Second Team with Bell capturing the SEC’s Freshman of the Year award. All three players registered over a .340 batting average and combined for 104 of the team’s 255 RBIs.
“Our returners weren’t happy with the way we finished last season,” Dobson said. “They know what to expect, they know what it takes for our team to reach its goals and they hold each other accountable to that standard. You have to learn from experience, and our returners want to make sure that our newcomers don’t have to go through some of the same things they went though. They’ve done a great job of showing them the way instead of letting them find their way.”
The Tigers embark on the 2014 season and play host to Texas, a 2013 Women’s College World Series participant. First pitch is on-tap for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6 from Tiger Park. LSU welcomes Central Arkansas, Minnesota, Murray State, Oklahoma State and SIU-Edwardsville for the Tiger Classic. The three-day tournament runs from Feb. 7-9.
Season tickets can be purchased for $75 at www.LSUtix.net for a banner home schedule that features 15 games versus 2013 NCAA Tournament teams. LSU squares off with two more 2013 Women’s College World Series opponents in Florida (March 14-16) and national runner-up Tennessee (April 4-6) in addition to NCAA Tournament participants Georgia (April 11-13) and Mississippi State (May 2-4) for three-game SEC series at Tiger Park.
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.