The LSU softball team got its first look at the turf outfield at Veterans Memorial Park when it practiced there Thursday afternoon in preparation for its NCAA super regional against James Madison.
Game 1 of the best-of-three series is 2 p.m. Friday in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The Tigers worked inside the LSU indoor football practice facility earlier in the week to get a head-start in preparation for the uncommon surface.
“You have to be able to cover a lot of ground,” center fielder Emily Griggs said of playing on turf. “You have to help each other read the bounces.”
Coach Beth Torina didn’t seem concerned about the Tigers ability to adjust to the surface, which they played on just once this season.
“The last time we played on turf,” she said, “we scored 30 runs.”
That was LSU’s 30-8, six-inning victory against Louisiana Tech on March 15 in Ruston.
Dukes have tough 1-2 punch
JMU has as good a 1-2 punch in the circle as any team left in the NCAA tournament with sophomore right-hander Megan Good (31-2, 0.90) and senior left-hander Jailyn Ford (18-2, 0.88).
“It’s a huge difference,” Torina said of facing a right-hander and a left-hander. “They’re both really talented, and they both bring something different. They’ve both had so much success, and we have a ton of respect for what they’ve done.”
Good and Ford have combined for all of the Dukes decisions, 66 of 75 appearances and 52 of 53 starts.
LSU went to the Women’s College World Series last year, but this year’s postseason has been a different experience, especially for Griggs.
She was a freshman last season when the Tigers hosted the Southeastern Conference tournament and Baton Rouge regional and super regional. In all they played 12 straight games at Tiger Park leading up to the WCWS and 30 days lapsed between their final regular-season road game at Missouri and their WCWS opener.
“I never had to travel for postseason until the World Series last year,” Griggs said. “Traveling for the SEC tournament (in Starkville, Mississippi) was really different for me and traveling for a super regional is going to be extremely different, but our great upperclassmen are always like, ‘this is how it goes, we practice this day, and we do this.’ So it’s just like playing an away series for two days.”
Juanita biding her time
Once again, Juanita the Rallyfish did not make the traveling squad.
Juanita, who was recruited from a Walmart when LSU arrived in Oklahoma City for the WCWS last season, was left behind in her tank inside Tiger Park just as she was for the SEC tournament two weeks ago.
But that doesn’t mean Juanita’s traveling days are over.
“She’s a World Series fish, right?” Torina said.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.