ORLANDO, Fla. - The No. 11 LSU softball team continues its 13-game road trip as the Tigers head to the Sunshine State to play at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic over the weekend. It marks the fourth and final weekend of non-conference tournament action for LSU.
LSU (14-2) has games slated versus fellow 2012 Women's College World Series participant and No. 10 Oregon (Friday - 10 a.m. CT), along with No. 14 Michigan (Saturday - 3:45 p.m. CT), No. 15 Louisville (Sunday - 10:15 a.m. CT), Penn State (Saturday - 11 a.m. CT) and Syracuse (Friday - 12:15 p.m. CT).
"There's going to be a lot of good matchups, and it's going to be a challenge every time we take the field in Orlando this weekend," Torina said. "We're excited to take on these great programs, and hopefully they'll help us be prepared for SEC play when we start that up the following weekend."
Rachele Fico, a three-time Louisiana Pitcher of the Week recipient, has already amassed a 9-1 record to go along with a stifling 0.60 ERA. The senior right-hander has already fired six strikeouts fueled by her second career no-hitter versus Ohio State last weekend. Fico has racked up 75 strikeouts over her 58.2 innings of work and sits in fourth place on LSU's all-time list.
Ashley Czechner and Meghan Patterson have combined to win five of their six decisions in the circle. Patterson has added a pair of shutouts, while Czechner is coming off her best performance of the young season. She retired 12 of the final 14 hitters she faced and tallied a season's best eight strikeouts during a 6-1 win over UNLV.
"I think we're through the woods with Czechner," Torina said. "She really started pitching during the UNLV game the way we've expected her to. I think she's going to continue to have good outings, and it's going to be smooth sailing from here on out for the most part. Of course, she'll have some bumps down the road. Every pitcher will, but I think we know that we're getting a lot more from Czech at this point."
LSU's offense has turned in a .308 team batting average and cranked 15 home runs from seven different players. The 15 dingers have already surpassed the team's total from last season.
From the top of the lineup, A.J. Andrews and Jacee Blades have tallied 34 hits, scored 20 runs and posted a 9-for-10 effort in the stolen bases department. Both enter this weekend's action on five-game hitting streaks.
"I think those players at the top of the order probably aren't getting enough credit right now," Torina said. "Everyone has been talking about the home runs and the power numbers. Without A.J. and Jacee, we're not in a lot of the ball games that we've been winning. Those two have been doing a fantastic job of setting the table, making things happen for us and putting pressure on opposing defenses. Those two are really the unsung heroes for us at this point of the season."
Friday's LSU-Oregon game will be carried live via www.ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN app. All five games also will live audio available for Geaux Zone subscribers at LSUsports.net/live.
Every LSU softball game will have live stats available at www.LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsusoftball on Twitter.
LSU's next home game will be Wednesday, March 13 versus Nicholls State with a 6 p.m. first pitch. Tickets can be purchased online at www.LSUtix.net or on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Season tickets also are on-sale for $75 and additional ticket information is available at www.LSUtix.net.