Beth Torina knows opening day is getting near because she can start to feel the nerves bubbling up in her stomach.
No matter how many times Torina goes through it, the first game of the season always comes with a case of the jitters.
It’s not quite like the feeling before a big game, of which she’s coached many after four trips to the Women’s College World Series in six seasons. It’s a mixture of nervousness and excitement for the new season about to start.
Year No. 7 at the helm of LSU softball is no different.
“It’s always nervous (and) excited,” Torina said. “I think if it wasn’t nervous excited, you’re too lackadaisical about it. I think it’s got to be a little bit of nerves, a little bit of not knowing what you’re going to get and having super high expectations. You’re always going to have a little nervousness.”
Torina and the No. 8 Tigers host Chicago-Illinois at 6 p.m. Thursday for the season opener in Tiger Park.
Senior outfielder Emily Griggs described the feeling of opening day like Christmas and Mardi Gras rolled into one.
And just like those holidays, opening day can be just as overwhelming for younger players going through it their first time as it is exciting.
Often times, freshmen need a few games to get acclimated to the college game before they can focus on real production.
LSU immediately follows opening day with four games in two days as part of the Tiger Classic, which includes UT Arlington and Southern Miss on Friday and UMass and Syracuse on Saturday.
“It’s getting comfortable wearing the uniform for the first time, or getting used to playing your first actual game under the coaching staff, things like that,” Griggs said. “Just getting the jitters out against some really awesome competition early in the year, something that coach Torina makes sure happens, so when (Southeastern Conference) play comes they’re more comfortable.”
If all goes to plan, Thursday is the start of a journey for what LSU hopes to be a fourth consecutive trip to Oklahoma City this spring for the WCWS.
Torina said she hasn’t completely settled on a lineup for the season and likely won’t for at least a few games, once players get a chance to show what they have to offer.
The open competition to start the season, Torina said, isn’t of much concern, considering she believes LSU has plenty of depth in the lineup.
“Fans will see a continuation of what LSU softball is all about,” Torina said. “They are going to see the continued tradition of very talented softball players. We have some great athletes that can run, hit, pitch and do a lot of different things. You will see some very athletic young women.”