Rachele Fico and the Tigers Seek Another Berth in Women's CWS
For most student-athletes going into their final year of eligibility, their main goals are to finish their career strong and accomplish any personal objectives they haven't had the opportunity to fulfill during their first three seasons.
For pitcher Rachele Fico, her senior season is about making her teammates better, leading by example and most importantly re-establishing a tradition of excellence for the LSU softball program.
After being named an NFCA First-Team All-American last season, Fico is not focusing on repeating that honor but getting her team back to college softball's biggest stage, the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
"It was a great feeling and something you work for since you are a little girl playing softball," Fico said. "It was just incredible for our seniors, and it was great for our program to get to the Women's College World Series.
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"I want to just make it a tradition for LSU softball," Fico continued. "I want to see this team go and be a contender every year even when I'm years out of the program. When I turn on the TV, I want to see them in Oklahoma City."
This attitude and dedication is what makes Fico one of the best pitchers in the nation. She not only focuses on how she can get better but how to help her teammates improve so that they may be successful.
While she is focused on continuing her success from last season, Fico is also working on creating a dominant pitching staff.
"This year we are a staff full of rise-ball pitchers so I need to work hard to make sure I have a diverse look so that we can balance each other out," Fico said. "I just need to be the best that I can be and offset our pitchers to make each other successful."
LSU's head coach, Beth Torina, took note of Fico's selfless attitude during her first year at the helm.
"It's not like it is difficult to like Rachele," Torina said. "She is such a good kid and one of the greatest competitors I have ever been around. I have really enjoyed all the time I've been able to spend with her."
The relationship between Torina and Fico is different from others. Their relationship on the field is based on trust off the field.
"She is able to confide in me for different things, and I really feel good about our relationship," Torina said. "All of that goes a long way, too, because on the field she trusts me to call the right pitches and make decisions that are good for her. I think the time I invested off the field, which I have really enjoyed, has helped our relationship on the field."
Under Torina's direction, Fico noticeably improved from her sophomore to junior year. She went from a 14-10 record and a 2.40 ERA to a 20-13 mark and a stout 1.12 ERA. The Oxford, Connecticut native amassed 13 shutouts in 2012 compared to having a combined nine shutouts over her first two seasons.
"Coach Torina is amazing and works so well with the individuals and knows how to coach different people," Fico said. "She doesn't have this cookie-cutter way of coaching, and she really knows how to connect to people. You can tell how passionate she is about the game, and it makes you want to be better for her."
Torina's coaching style is what Fico believes will bring the Tigers back to national prominence and uphold LSU's tradition as the SEC softball program with the most overall championships.
Fico wants all future players to know what an honor it is to represent such a great university with a passionate fan base.
"It's such a privilege to wear Purple and Gold," Fico said. "I don't want them to take anything for granted. I want them to realize how special it is before they are seniors and before it is their last season. I want them to enjoy every second of it throughout their entire career."
As Fico goes into her final season, she can't help but feel grateful for all that Baton Rouge has given her.
"I wish I had another year," Fico said. "It's something that I know I'm going to miss so much, but I'll look back knowing that these have been the best times of my life."