OKLAHOMA CITY — The LSU softball team has leaned on freshman pitcher Carley Hoover more and more down the stretch of this season.
But Tigers coach Beth Torina did something in the Women’s College World Series that she hadn’t done before — start Hoover in consecutive games on consecutive days.
Hoover, who pitched a six-hitter in LSU’s 6-1 victory against Auburn to start the WCWS on Thursday, was back in the circle when the Tigers played Florida on Friday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
She started on consecutive days once, losing to Arizona State 1-0 on the second day of the Baton Rouge regional (May 16) and beating the Sun Devils 5-0 in an elimination game the next day. But in between, Allie Walljasper started an elimination game against Nebraska and got the win, though Hoover got the final two outs for a save.
Hoover started consecutive games in the regular-season finale against Auburn on May 3 and the Southeastern Conference opener against Tennessee, but those games were played four days apart.
Tigers face double threat
Hoover was opposed by Florida’sLauren Haeger in more ways than one.
Haeger was not only Hoover’s counterpart in the circle, but she was also the No. 3 hitter in the Gators lineup.
The National Player of the Year is the first player in NCAA Division I history to hit 60 home runs and get 60 victories in her career.
Second crack at 2-0 start
LSU is attempting to win its first two games in the WCWS for the first time in its four appearances in the championship.
The Tigers’ victory against Auburn marked the second time they have won their opening game in the series. The 2004 team beat Michigan in its first game, then lost to UCLA in its second. The Tigers then beat Florida State and Cal before being eliminated by Cal.
The 2001 team lost its opener against Stanford, then beat Iowa and Oklahoma before being eliminated by UCLA.
The 2012 team lost its opener to Cal, then beat South Florida before being eliminated by Arizona State.
LSU is 7-6 in WCWS games going into Friday.
Record-setting hitting pace
LSU is on pace to finish with the highest team batting average in school history. The Tigers entered Friday’s game with a batting average of .339. The record was set by the 1998 team’s average of .334.
The Tigers’ two home runs in Thursday’s opener moved them within three home runs of the school record they set last season.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.