Four LSU players were named to the All-Southeastern Conference first team and four other Tigers also were honored on teams announced Tuesday on the eve of the start of the SEC softball tournament at Tiger Park.
Sophomore designated player/utility selection Sahvanna Jaquish was named to the first team for the second consecutive season, the first Tiger to accomplish that since Kirsten Shortridge in 2010-11. Two juniors — shortstop Bianka Bell and catcher Kellsi Kloss — joined Jaquish on the first team as did right-hander Carley Hoover, who was named to the Freshman all-SEC team along with Tigers outfielder Emily Griggs.
Two Tigers outfielders — senior A.J. Andrews and sophomore Bailey Landry — were named to the second team and junior first baseman Sandra Simmons was named to the all-defensive team.
“I think it’s unbelievable in a conference that’s this strong to have that many players from our team honored,” LSU coach Beth Torina said after practice Tuesday. “I think it makes it such a big deal to have so many players recognized. It’s such a competitive league with so many great players.”
It’s the first time since 2000 that an LSU team has had four players on the first team, two players shy of the all-time record set in 1999. The six selections between the first and second teams are tied for the fourth most all-time and the most since 2004. It’s the third straight year that multiple Tigers made the freshman team.
SEC regular-season champion Florida was second with three first-team selections, including Player of the Year Kelsey Stewart and Pitcher of the Year Lauren Haeger. Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio was named Freshman of the Year and Auburn’s Clint Myers was Coach of the Year.
Torina said she did a “double take” when she saw Andrews and Landry didn’t make the first team until she took a closer look at the first-team outfielders — Kirsti Merritt of Florida, Haylie McCleney of Alabama, Emily Crane of Missouri and Alaynie Page of South Carolina.
“When I went back and looked at the outfielders on the team they’re all so deserving,” Torina said. “They’re really talented, they’re great players, they hit for average, they did a lot of things.
“We vote based on the SEC-only statistics so it’s a really fair comparison — what you did against the same teams that she faced. Those players had great seasons and so did my outfielders as well.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.