After a strong opening weekend, the No. 16 LSU softball team will try to remain undefeated Friday when it faces Hofstra on the first day of the four-team Tiger Invitational.
The nine-game weekend schedule includes Hofstra, Central Arkansas and No. 20 Notre Dame.
Hofstra and Central Arkansas gets the event underway at 1 p.m Friday.
As for the Tigers, they’ll play five games over the weekend, taking on the Bears once and the Pride and Fighting Irish twice.
All non-LSU games are free. Tickets for LSU games cost $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Fans that show up for the first of the team’s two games that day on Friday and Saturday can purchase one ticket and stay for both games.
LSU jumped three spots in both major polls Tuesday after starting the season with five straight victories last weekend.
Coach Beth Torina and the team used the full week to continue to strengthen key areas.
“There’s a huge list of things that we’re going to continue to work out — not only this week but throughout the year,” Torina said. “We want to be better in every aspect of the game. I was happy with the start, but we have a long way to go to be where we need to be.”
After setting a host of offensive records last season, the Tigers showed little signs of rust against Memphis, Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State and NC State last weekend, hitting .366 as a group, outhitting their opponents 48-19 and outscoring the group 34-5 by the end of the weekend.
Of the team’s 48 hits, 17 were for extra bases, while 30 of the 34 runs were for RBIs.
Bianka Bell led the weekend with nine hits — including three for doubles and three for home runs — with 10 RBIs and seven runs to produce a .563 opening-weekend batting average. Bell now has 29 career home runs for her career, putting her four away from tying Rachel Mitchell’s record of 33.
Four other players earned six hits over the weekend in A.J. Andrews, Sandra Simmons, Bailey Landry and Kellsi Kloss, while 11 players had at least two during the weekend. Emily Griggs, who started three games, hit .571 in her debut weekend and was 4-for-5 in stolen bases.
While the offense produced much of the excitement, eyes soon turned to the circle — the main area of emphasis over the fall and early spring workouts.
The Tigers — whose team ERA rose above 3.00 last spring — were more impressive in the circle last weekend. Baylee Corbello, Carley Hoover, Kelsee Selman and Allie Walljasper combined for a 1.06 ERA with 41 strikeouts and seven walks.
Corbello won both of her starts last week, walking just two batters in 11.0 innings of work for LSU. She finished second in strikeouts only to Hoover, who made two appearances, earning a complete-game win and a save. She struck out 15 in 10 innings.
Selman and Walljasper were spotless last Saturday alone, holding two teams scoreless while allowing six hits. Selman gave up just two hits in five innings on only 49 pitches, while Walljasper had a perfect game through 4.1 and hit a home run while at the plate.
LSU’s first opponent in Hofstra is under new leadership in 2015 as Larissa Anderson takes over for Bill Edwards, who retired at the end of last season. The Tigers are 3-1 all-time after splitting a doubleheader against the Pride last year, as Hofstra went on to finish 34-15 and make it to the Norman NCAA Regional.
The Tigers defeated Central Arkansas 8-1 in last year’s Tiger Classic, as the Bears come into the tournament 4-2 on the year after earning an 11-2 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame moved up a couple of spots in both polls as well, coming in as the 20th ranked team by the NFCA and 19th by USA Softball. The Fighting Irish were picked to finish second in the ACC, and started off the season going 4-1 in the So-Cal Collegiate Classic and racking up wins over UCLA and Cal State Fullerton, among others. This will be the first meeting between the two sides since 1999, and only the second and third all-time meetings.
“I think our schedule gets tougher every week from here on out honestly,” Torina said. “As the season goes on people get sharper. Notre Dame is a quality opponent and had some great wins last weekend, Hofstra is traditionally a great program and playing both of them twice will be a challenge we’ll have to prepare for.”