COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 20 LSU softball team embarks on NCAA Tournament action as part of a four-team regional hosted by No. 16 national seed Texas A&M held from Friday to Sunday at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The Tigers (38-16) are making their 13th NCAA Regional appearance and have garnered a 36-24 mark during the postseason highlighted by Women's College World Series trips in 2001 and 2004.
LSU opens the double elimination event Friday against Syracuse with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. followed by Texas A&M and Sacred Heart at 7 p.m.
The Tigers have won four of their five previous meetings with Syracuse and Texas A&M. The only setback was a 1-0 affair to the Aggies during an elimination game at the 2010 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
"The postseason is all about making memories, and we're excited to be one of the 64 teams with an opportunity to still be playing softball," head coach Yvette Girouard said. "We know we have to execute with timely hitting, phenomenal pitching and magnificent defense to be successful. It's extremely important to stay in the winner's bracket in NCAA play. As coaches, we want the players to relax and play the game with the enthusiasm they did when they were young."
Syracuse (44-11) secured its second straight NCAA bid after collecting its second consecutive championship in BIG EAST Tournament. The Orange is riding a program-best 14-game winning streak dating back to April 26.
Jenna Caira, the BIG EAST's Pitcher of the Year and Tournament MVP, has logged 264.1 of SU's 359 innings in the circle. She has racked up a 34-9 mark, a 1.38 ERA, picked up 305 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .183 batting average.
Hallie Gibbs, Lacey Kohl and Stephanie Watts have connected for 37 of the squad's 66 home runs. Gibbs has drove home a team-high 62 RBIs, while Kohl and Watts have picked up 39 RBIs apiece. Lisaira Daniels sports a team-best .352 batting average and tallied 24 stolen bases.
LSU ended the regular season on a 23-4 run and have outscored its opponents by a 111-55 margin going back to March 19. The Tigers have posted 11 shutouts en route to a 1.45 staff ERA sparked by All-SEC First-Team selection Brittany Mack and her 13-3 mark with a stifling 1.20 ERA. Rachele Fico also has won nine of her last 10 decisions.
LSU's offense has been fueled by Ashley Langoni, Juliana Satnos, Tammy Wray and Anissa Young during the second half of the season. The quartet has notched 29 of the squad's 34 extra base hits along with 69 of the team's 93 RBIs.
Young, an All-SEC Second-Team pick, paces the Tigers with a .286 hitting clip to go along with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. The Fontana, Calif., native is 9-for-17 with two dingers and nine RBIs over her last seven games.
Wray has cranked seven long balls and added 30 RBIs on a .260 average. She has hit safely in 10 of her last 16 outings and her 40 hits are second on the team. Defensively, she leads the SEC with 118 assists.
Langoni has garnered a team-high 41 hits and is the only player to start all 54 games at the same position on the season. She has belted four homers, totaled 34 RBIs and ripped a hit in eight of her last 13 games.
Santos has gone 20-for-68 at the plate and chipped in 13 of her 25 RBIs since April 1. She has boosted her average by 52 points during that stretch and more than doubled her RBI total from last season.
Simone Heyward, an All-SEC Freshman honoree, has turned in a hit during five of her last eight games since returning to the top of the lineup. She has scored a team-best 37 runs, and the Tigers have won 23 of 25 games when Heyward crosses the plate.
Tiffany Shaw and Alex Boulet join Heyward among the SEC's Top 15 in stolen bases. The trio has accounted for 56 of the team's 83 steals. Shaw has provided a team-high 10 multi-performances to claim a .275 average.
LSU's catching duo of Lauren Houston and Morgan Russell has teamed up to throw out 12 runners and held the opposition to 51 stolen bases on the season. Houston has smacked hits in 10 of her last 17 games, while Russell has reached base in 11 of her last 12 outings.
All of LSU's postseason games will have live video, live audio and live stats in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The contests also will be carried on ESPN 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe calling the action.
NCAA College Station Regional
Friday, May 20
Game 1: LSU vs. Syracuse - 4 p.m.
Game 2: No. 16 Texas A&M vs. Sacred Heart - 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 21
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner - 1 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser - 4 p.m.
Game 5: Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 loser - 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner - 1 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary - 30 minutes after Game 6