In some ways, Beth Torina was apprehensive about the LSU softball team’s five-game road swing to Kansas last week, a sudden break from Southeastern Conference play after opening up with Auburn two weeks ago.
The Tigers coach tries to test her team’s physical and mental stamina as much as possible. The ability to overcome adversity is paramount in the postseason, she’s said, and a taxing schedule is one way to prepare for that.
Now back at Tiger Park to play their next eight games, including Tuesday’s matchup with Nicholls State at 6 p.m., Torina said she’s seeing some of the resiliency she desired during a 4-1 stretch.
“We hit a pretty good stretch here at home, which is great for so many reasons — to get our team back in a consistent routine, back in the weight room, back at practice, back with our families. All of those things are huge," Torina said. "And then of course, who wouldn’t want to play in front of the Tiger fans?”
Though the Midwest excursion continued Torina’s tradition of taking players back to their home state — in this case, Wichita native Emily Griggs — certain challenges presented themselves. The No. 13 Tigers (23-7) played Wichita State at 6 p.m. Thursday — a 4-3 comeback victory in eight innings — and then traveled more than two hours to Lawrence, Kansas, where they opened up the Rock Chalk Challenge at 9 a.m. Friday.
Once they completed their 7-0 win against Omaha on Friday morning, the Tigers didn’t play again until 4:30 p.m. — a 10-2 victory against Kansas in six innings.
LSU experienced another 9 a.m. start Saturday, falling 1-0 to Tulsa before rebounding with a 7-3 victory against Southeast Missouri State in the second leg of a doubleheader. Tulsa ace Emily Watson held the Tigers to five hits while striking out eight.
“Even though we got a loss out of it, I think that we learned that, games like (the Tulsa loss), we can’t give away so many opportunities to the opposing team,” senior infielder Constance Quinn said. “We have to handle our business a lot better than we did."
Spring in her bat
Sydney Springfield doesn’t pay attention to her statistics, so don’t ask her what’s her home run tally for the season.
But it’s quite evident that the slugger Torina recruited out of Flower Mound, Texas, has been on a power surge over the past four weeks.
The freshman cleanup hitter was responsible for three of the Tigers’ seven home runs over the five-game swing in Kansas, including two home runs in Friday’s win against the Jayhawks. Her homer in the top of eighth inning against the Shockers broke a 3-3 tie, cementing LSU’s three-run rally over the final three innings.
After not hitting a home run in her first 12 games of her collegiate career, 10 of which came in pitcher-friendly Tiger Park, Springfield has homered eight times over the past 18 games.
“I feel really confident at the plate and about my role on my team. I’m having tons of fun,” Springfield said. “It’s great hitting behind Sahvanna (Jaquish). She’s an awesome hitter, and she’s just a great role model and teaches me a lot of things.”