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Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
No. 10 Softball Plays Hosts to Annual Media Day
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Published: February 04, 2013, 06:25 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - The LSU softball program held its annual media day Monday at Tiger Park. Head coach Beth Torina previewed the upcoming 2013 season and took questions from the media for approximately 20 minutes.

Prior to Torina's press conference, a quartet of players which included Allison Falcon, Rachele Fico, Simone Heyward and Tammy Wray met with the media inside the team's locker room for one-on-one interviews.

LSU is four days away from 2013 opening weekend where the Tigers will play host to Hampton, No. 22 North Carolina, Purdue and Tulsa as part of the Tiger Classic from February 8-10.

Season tickets can be purchased for $75 and single-game tickets are now on-sale at www.LSUtix.net for a marquee home schedule that features 15 games against 2012 NCAA Tournament participants. The Tigers also will welcome defending national champion Alabama along with Kentucky, Missouri and South Carolina for three-game SEC series.

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.

Below are some quotes from LSU softball media day.

LSU Softball Media Day - February 4, 2012
Head Coach Beth Torina

Opening Statement ...
"First, I would like to thank you guys (the media) for being here and for the coverage you provide for our team. It is truly a big part of what is helping us grow our sport is you all covering us, and the television coverage we are continuing to get. Thank you so much for being here today.  It's really important to us, and we really appreciate it."

"I like start out by talking a little bit about last season. What an amazing season it was, and I am so proud of the season we had.  It was awesome for so many reasons.  First, it was great that we were able to honor Coach Girouard, and the program that she built. I know she was so proud of the year we had. Leaving here as a Hall of Famer, she definitely left her mark on this program.  It was awesome to honor her and to see her in the stands right above the dugout at every contest during the World Series was something I will never forget.  It was really a great vision of what this program is all about.  It is so nice to have her included in the program." 

"It was also great for the seven seniors that left the program. They really wanted to leave their mark. I said that to you last year about this time of year that it was their goal to leave their mark on this program. They were able to do so in the regional and with super regional championship.  It was really special for them.  It was also special for this coaching staff.  A staff that had controversy when we got here was able to prove a little bit of ourselves by taking this team to the College World Series."

"Finally, the most important thing was the way we did it.  I think on paper there were a lot of teams in this country that were more talented than we were and that had more going for them.  But the fact that our team truly came together and did it with will, determination, and their hearts I think is something that is the biggest lesson we learned during the entire College World Series experience.  I think that's what this 2013 team is going to take the most away from that is just a taste of being at the College World Series. They understand that if 19 girls come together to do something, they are capable of greatness just from their will, determination and simply by using their hearts." 

"This team understands that they have to do thing very differently than last year. They are a very different type of team. I think they understand that they have to work differently and perform differently. But most of all, they have to win differently than last year's team.  I think the taste and experience of the College World Series is something that will take us a long way.  I am trying really hard to make them understand that is not something that entitles them or gives them extra benefits.  They actually have to work and earn their way back there. We try to preach that to them on a daily basis.  They have to be themselves, and they have to win and get there their own way."

"I think this year we have some very talented freshmen. Bianka Bell, Sandra Simmons, and Hailey Smith, these guys will continue to set the tone for our offense. Bringing in these freshmen, they came in with a different mentality. They are very aggressive type of hitters, and they are aggressive players. I think they will set the tone for our offense this season. I think that having the returners with a year under their belt, they understand a lot more what we are looking for.  I think we are much closer to having the team that I envisioned with our staff's philosophy."

"Of course, I don't have to say much about Rachele Fico. You understand her talent and her ability. She will continue to lead us on the mound. She leads this program on and off the field.  She's an amazing competitor, and I think her and along with our other pitchers on staff will do a really nice job for us on the mound."

"Our theme this year is called "Rule the Day." This is something we came up with. As I talked about, we don't want this team to feel entitled. I didn't want them to think they can walk back to the College World Series simply because they have been there before. They have to go out every day and earn everything that we are trying to get to. We had to make sure they understand all the work and effort; it actually makes the target larger on our back because we have been to the College World Series before.  So "Rule the Day" is all about earning it every day.  It's about the details. The Player of the Day gets a ruler, and it is the measuring stick of the day.  You earned it, you did the work and you were the player that stood out the most. We also take pride in our kids doing well in the classroom. It is all about the details and respecting your teammates, your elders, and your professors. It is all about what you do in the community.  It is about ruling everything we do and not just our practices. We try to get them to rule every day and look at it as a day-to-day process and not a season long goal. We try to rule every detail we come across during the day. 

"This week we are so excited about our opening weekend. It is definitely going to be a challenge.  We are going to have to hit the ground running. We will know a lot about our team instantly as we open with No. 22 North Carolina in the first game. Tulsa and Purdue also are very good softball programs.  Hampton is bringing Trena Peel, All-American pitcher from LSU, back here to compete in Tiger Park. It is going to be a really exciting weekend, and we are going to learn a lot about our team immediately. We are really looking forward to it. We will use the next four days to continue to prepare."

On her coaching philosophy and recruiting...
"We still have a lot of recruits from the previous staff. We enjoy them and take them on as our own. I really like the team that we are putting on the field this year. I like the aggressive mindset of some of these freshmen, they are extremely talented hitters. I think one hitter stepping up into your lineup, being aggressive, swinging hard and doing all of those things could truly be contagious and set the tone for the entire lineup. That is what I am talking about with these freshmen and their ability. They bring a lot of fearless mindset to us, and I think that is contagious throughout the whole lineup. My philosophy is to be very balanced. You are still going to see us slapping and running some. I think we are going to have more power in the middle of our lineup without question. We have some kids who are going to do great job hitting doubles and put the ball in play. Players like Allison Flacon, those guys are crucial to any lineup."

On recruiting fearless players...
"I wish I could all the time because that is a great concept. I think what I learned the most about the SEC last year is that you have to have talented hitters, but you have to have resilient kids that can go out every weekend. They faced five All-American (pitchers) last year in the conference.  You have to be able to go out, fail and then brush yourself off and answer back. You don't get to come up for air here in the SEC. You are facing Alabama, Tennessee, and then Georgia. It's not necessarily about being talented. It is about having the mindset to be resilient. I think that these freshmen are capable of doing that."

On how important mindset is to her coaching philosophy...
"Obviously, there is only so much you can do with your ability. I think having kids that are confident and that approach each at-bat, each ground ball, and each pitch with a confident mindset is 90 percent of this game. It's the way you approach the game. I think that there are plenty of kids that shouldn't do the things they do, and there are plenty of talented kids that don't perform to expectations. I feel that having kids with a really good mentality is something important to us." 

On if mentality spurred the run to the Women's College World Series...
"I do think we had trouble understanding who we exactly were as a team and getting everyone on the same page early on last season. I think we had trouble getting them into the exact system that we wanted to. Late, we figured out who we exactly were and everyone knew their role very well. They understood they were running out of time. We are all trying to go in the same direction. We all got on the same page, and I think that was a huge factor in it."

On the differences of each LSU pitcher...
"I think they are different. I think that Rachele will, of course, lead the staff. Ashley Czechner, for those of you who don't know, was the Junior College Pitcher of the Year and won the national championship last year. I think she is a gamer, I don't know everything there is to know about Ashley Czechner yet.  I am waiting to see her in competition in Purple and Gold. I have seen her in competition in Chattanooga State and Maryland the year before. I would like to see what she is capable of doing in competition. I feel she is one of those fierce competitors that when the game is on the line wants the ball. Meghan Patterson has truly waited her turn. She is so talented and deserves every minute she will pitch this year. Sitting behind Mack and Fico for two years is a tough job. She played that role to the absolute best you could ask someone. She deserves every minute she gets. She is the kid that does everything you ask of her. She has great pitches and moves the ball around the zone the best of anyone on this staff. She is capable of throwing any pitch in any count in any location. She does a really good job of that. She is the one that makes us a little bit more.  Of course, Fico is just going to overpower them. She hits all of her spots. She does so many things well. It would take me hours to list all of them for you."

On what the freshmen are showing on defense...
"Sandra Simmons is at first base for us. She is left-handed and a bulldog. She is a hard-nose player that will do anything you would ask of her. She plays as tough defensively as she does offensively. She is special to watch. She makes first base an athletic position. It's a lot of fun to watch her. There is a lot of competition between her and Dylan Supak right now at first base. Bianka Bell is in the middle infield.  She is really talented. This kid is capable of doing anything we ask. She pitches too and is very talented. I would expect to see her at either of the two middle in-field positions opening weekend. Hailey Smith is working at third base, I think she will be in a DP role early. Kellsi Kloss will see some time catching opening weekend. She is another one that is a fantastic kid and wants to do anything we asked of her.  She has some power at the plate. At times, it even surprises me how much she battles and what she is capable of doing. She will be another fun one to watch."

On how Coach Torina has changed since last season...
"I think that I am a lot more comfortable, and I know what to expect. Being through it one year is huge.  I am just feeling more confident and comfortable. I feel that the more we direct this program to my philosophy and  the things that I want, the more comfortable I will be. I am able to coach the game that is more of my personality. I don't know if I have changed a lot as a coach. I think that I am probably still the same, but I am now more comfortable in the position I am in."

On high expectations for this season ...
"I think a lot of times you see teams that have a ton of success, and then they can't follow up on it. You know, they can't be consistent on that level. Once you get to that spot, it's hard to stay there. I think staying there is a lot harder than achieving it one time. I think we want to have a program that's year in and year out at the College World Series, a team that is a contender every year. I think competing for a national championship is always one of our goals. So, I think this team has the talent to do it. I think we will definitely hurt a little bit from losing so much experience on the field. But hopefully, by the end of the season, some of these freshmen will have a lot of game under their belt, and they'll be able to do the same thing."

On infielder Allison Falcon ...
"She's amazing. The way she leads the team on the field is very different from her personality off the field I feel like. When I have her in the middle infield, it's almost like I don't have to coach that day. She is able to just direct people without being bossy, pointing a finger or telling them they're wrong. She just has that good repore. I think a lot of it comes from how well she knows her teammates. I think she's the one person on the team that could fit in with anyone on the team. I think it's because she has that good repore with them, then she's able to direct them. Not to mention, she is ridiculously intelligent. She is a super smart kid. She just understands the game and understands exactly what we're needed her to do."

On outfielder Katie Guillory ...
"I'm just so excited for Katie Guillory. I'm so excited that we have her as part of this program again. I'm so excited that I'm getting to spend two years with her here. She is truly the heart and soul of the program. She's the emotional leader. She's the one that the minute we got her back in the dugout last year during the postseason run, I think if you could make a big difference from the bench. She's the one that did it. I think she's going to get to see some playing time finally and it's well deserved. She's just a special kid. I'm proud to have her on my team every day."

On pitcher Rachele Fico ...
"I think she's in the top of the top of the top in the country. She is an elite level pitcher. We are lucky to have her. This is a really strong pitching class in the country. There are some very, very special seniors right now in the country pitching wise, but I would put her right up there with the best of them. So, we are so lucky to have her. It's not just what she does on the field. It's what she does off the team for her team, how she supports her teammates, how she competes and how she demands so much out of herself without ever pointing a finger at anyone else. It's amazing what she does."

On the offense having success against Fico in practice ...
"She's definitely had a tougher time getting them out, and I don't think it's her pitches. She's done a good job with what she's worked on in the offseason, and she's very prepared. So, the fact that we're able to do something off of a pitcher with the ability and the level of Fico does give us a lot of hope for our offense this season."

On the upcoming season at Tiger Park ...
"All the teams coming in are good. Missouri still brings an All-American pitcher. Alabama has several All-Americans back on their team. Of course, they're the defending national champions. I would say the (Strikeout Ovarian Cancer) Teal Game is one of the closest to my heart because my mother being a survivor of ovarian cancer. That's April 20, and that's important. Then, I think the opening weekend of the SEC will be a big one too. It will be a lot of fun things for the fans this year at Tiger Park, so we're excited for them. If we could come out for Missouri and Alabama, we would love to get everybody that we can."

On the transition for her from year one to two ...
"I think that's always the case that you don't have to tell them every single thing. I can say a drill, and they know what it is. I don't have to explain it every time. I say let's do this, they can just go and do it which makes things flow a lot more smoothly. I also think Allison Falcon, like I said earlier, is ridiculously intelligent. It is much easier just to run practice or do anything. It's nice we're still in that teaching mode with the freshmen, but then they can also watch the upperclassmen and just imitate what they're doing and jump right in. So, it's so much easier being in year two than year one, no question."

On replacing Brittany Mack ...
"I think it's tough. I think Katie Guillory will help us in that role. I think Bianka Bell, once she figures it out, will be an unbelievable leader for us. She is a talker, gets fired up and is fun to watch. I think she's still a little bit overwhelmed with trying to be a pitcher, a middle infielder and hitting in the middle of our lineup. I think once she gets that going, she will be fantastic with doing that. I think Lauren Houston is a fire plug back there. If you've ever seen her, she was fist pumping right along with (Brittany) Mack, so we still have the fist pumper still part of the battery there. I think she's teaching Kellsi Kloss how to fist pump right along with her, so I think we will still have that from behind the plate with a lot of excitement as well."

On the sashes and tiaras in the locker room ...
"We do a lot of team building things during the offseason. One of them was we did a murder mystery. There was a murder at a beauty pageant so they were beauty queens, and they all had to act it out. They all came just as the part. Tammy Wray was Miss New York, and she was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Meghan Patterson was Miss Alaska, and she was in a big fur Eskimo coat and had blue hair. It was pretty fun. So, a lot of team building things in the offseason just to get them to know each other, get them working together and bonding together. Ashley Czechner was killed unfortunately, but she's back. She's going full steam ahead, and she'll be throwing in the scrimmage today."

LSU Softball Media Day - February 4, 2013
Player Quotes

Infielder Allison Falcon

On excitement and concerns with the player turnover from last season...
"I'm definitely excited to get back to work to try and get back to the World Series.  Last year was just a great experience. It's not that last year was enough, I definitely want to get back and keep going. We know we have to work hard to get back there because it was so fun at the World Series."

On the World Series and the experience of last year's team...
"I think the experience we got while we were there, the exposure, we are really putting a good influence on the younger kids because we lost seven seniors. We had to replace them with a bunch of new faces.  We talk about the World Series all the time, how much fun there and how great it was to be there. We try to really instill in them how much harder we have to work to get back there."

On losing so many senior off of last year's team...
"The bad news I guess was we lost a lot of the team's leadership. There was so much experience with those players. They were talented, but they were great teachers for us younger kids at the time. I guess the good thing is now we get to step up. it's our turn, we have a bunch of new faces that are going to be really fun to watch."

On which newcomer the fans are going to like to watch...
"I think the fans will really like Bianka Bell. She's a powerful hitter, she's going to put up a lot of offensive numbers for us. She hits in the middle of lineup, and she also plays in the middle infield with me.  We'll have a lot of fun with her right there."

On her relationship with Rachele Fico and how she has changed...
"Fico and I were roommates for two years, we are really close and have a bunch of inside jokes together. She's always been very confident in herself. She's a very talented player, but I think just her experience level, it is above what she actually is.  She's a senior, she's the oldest you can possibly be. She just knows what to do when we need something the most."

On what she learned from last year's seniors that will help her be the captain...
"I definitely learned to control myself on and off the field. I also learned to be a good influence for the younger ones. And just to make better decisions for them, so they know what it takes to be successful."

On the team's Rule the Day theme and if it's a challenge in everyday life...
"It is, because, I like to look at it as ruling everything, every aspect of my life. Whether it's a test, or a specific drill we are working on in the infield, it's all about being the best you can be in every situation.  I really do think about it with every decision I make."

Pitcher Rachele Fico

On the offensive lineup and new player on  the team...
"Our lineup has so much depth. If you were to ask me who is going to be playing where, I couldn't even tell you yet because we have so many options. We are so talented. I think that's definitely going to work in our favor because it creates a lot of friendly competition in practice. Each one of our players definitely pushes each other to get better every day in practice."

On the goals she has set...
"We've set the highest goals for ourselves. We want to go back to the College World Series, we want to win the SEC Championship. We are working hard to reach those goals, and we have our sights set high."

On how she tried to improve during the off season...
"I was trying to expand my game and work on pitches. I continue to work hard, and we have a newcomer to our pitching staff, Ashley Czechner. She compliments Meghan and I nicely.  We all just push each other to make each other better, and I think we are going to have a really successful year."

On working on new pitches...
"I've continued to work on them to make them better, I hope to use some pitches more this year that I didn't maybe use as much last year."

On her leadership role since the Brittany Mack graduated...
"I think the good thing about our team is we have a true pitching staff so I know I'm not going to have to do it alone. Both Meghan and Ashley offset me really well so that's definitely going to work in our favor and keep opposing teams off balance."

On the schedule...
"We have a really challenging schedule, and I think that's definitely going to work in our favor.  We have our work cut out for us, and we are playing the best of the best. The only way to become the best is to play the best. We are going to have to work really hard to succeed against these teams.

On Coach Torina's message to the team...
"I think she has been very consistent in the message that she's sent to our team.  She believes in us, she makes us believe in ourselves, and she knows how capable we are of winning. I think that goes a long way with us, knowing that she has so much faith in us."

Outfielder Simone Heyward
On taking the season a step further after setting the bar high last season...
"Well, first of all, I don't see it really as pressure. I see it as more of a challenge. It's great that we are respected now in the game because last year no one expected us to even get out of our regional. It's really great to have that feeling to be ranked so high. Last year, we were all new to the approach Coach (Howard) Dobson was coming with. This year, we started at a completely different level.  And now, with the freshman coming in, it's easier because when they don't understand something we don't stop and go back. We progress each day from where we left off because there are so many upperclassmen that are there to help them move along with it."

On the team's mentality...
"For some people it is. One of my rules out there on the board is that you need to think that you are the best at everything, but believe that there is someone out there who thinks they are better than you at all times. So, it's great that we are at this position, but there is always going to be a target on our back. 

On seeing changes in Coach Torina after a successful first year...
"She pushes us harder, it's kind of scary at times.  Even our strength coach (Melissa Moore) has been pushing us so much harder at everything.  At practice, we know what Coach Torina expects. She's saying 'OK, you how I am, you know what I expect. Let's go, we are going to go a lot harder'.  There's no pausing, there's no waiting.  With our strength trainer, she sees that there are other teams that are bigger and stronger than us. She wants to keep our conditioning up very well because that's what helped us during the Missouri series last year."

On the speed in the outfield...
"Wonderful speed, actually.  We have Alex Boulet, A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Katie Guillory back. Everybody is back, and everybody is strong. The arms are strong especially. If we can't get to a ball, expect to still be at first base or second because our arms are going to definitely catch up to you."

On her coaches at LSU...
"I think, first of all, it was an honor to be recruited by Coach Girouard. It was an honor to be coached under her.  She's a legend. She's a great, great coach. And now Coach Torina, who seemed to be hand-picked by Coach Girouard, to take over the team.  She has brought our team to a whole new level, and I'm just excited.  It's two completely different styles of coaching, and I love it."

On the team's Rule the Day theme...
"To me, it means you wake up every morning expecting to be in charge of your own day. You don't wake up and say 'Oh it's raining, I'm not going to have a good day'. You wake up saying 'Oh it's raining, how can I get better in the rain'. And for this team, I think it really means that we need to take control of all of our practices.  We don't just show up and go through the motions. We show up, and we show out. That's what the coaches are really stresses every day. We have to take each practice seriously, we need to take every drill seriously."

Infielder Tammy Wray

On the excitement level the week before opening day...
"It's incredible. Obviously coming off a season where we just made it to the World Series, we have high expectations for ourselves.  We try to take it day-by-day and not get overwhelmed with anything. We're all very excited to start."

On pitchers Meghan Patterson and Ashley Czechner...
"The great thing about this team is that the pitching staff is just so different.  You have (Rachele) Fico with the speed who can throw you in on your hands so hard.  Then you have Meghan who just is so spinny with her pitches. She doesn't throw as hard as Fico, but she is very good at spinning the ball past you. She's very hard to hit. Then you have Czechner, who is coming off of winning a (Junior College) National Championship. We have very high expectations for her, and she is definitely meeting them.  She is just like Meghan with her spins, she's not as hard as Fico, but she's got good pitches. She mixes her pitches well so she's pretty hard to hit."

On homering off Rachele Fico two days ago in practice ...
"It was awesome. I've was in a slump for most of last year, I'd say, so just for my confidence that was great. Fico's an awesome pitcher. She's one of the best around, definitely the best that I'm going to face all season. It was a good feeling that I could tell myself if I can make that good of contact off Fico then I'm sure I can hit anybody."

 

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