The LSU softball team flaunted Lil Rally, its newest rally item, in and around its dugout during last week’s Southeastern Conference tournament
But thanks to recent NCAA action, junior Sahvanna Jaquish is now considering disguising the small tiger holding a Tabasco bottle as a soap dispenser.
The NCAA plans to curtail usage of props and uniform alterations in dugouts starting with this weekend’s NCAA tournament regionals, the organization confirmed to FloSoftball.com on Wednesday. The Times Daily of Alabama originally reported the crackdown that same day.
The No. 10 seed Tigers, who open postseason play against Long Island University Brooklyn at 6 p.m. Friday in Tiger Park, are known for their extensive use of hats, costumes and items, including Lil Rally.
“We have so much fun with all of our props,” Jaquish said. “We just like staying loose and relaxed in the dugout. It just helps us be silly and take our minds off of the pressure.”
After being notified of the restriction in a postseason packet provided by the NCAA, LSU coach Beth Torina informed her players they’d have to abandon their cherished rally props. She and her players said they’ll still play at the same level even without their usual dugout trappings
“I think the media loves it, I think the fans love it, and I think our kids just like to have a good time,” Torina said. “They’re going to have a good time whether they have rally items or not because it’s a game. At the end of the day, it’s always going to be a game.”
The crackdown began at the Division II level with North Alabama, a team also known for its dugout antics.
Terri Holmes, the chair of the NCAA Division II softball committee, told FloSoftball.com that the NCAA is emphasizing an existing rule against such props and behavior, one that is meant to “reflect a positive image of the game.”
Rule 3.12 in the NCAA softball rulebook states: “Coaches are responsible for ensuring that their players are legally equipped and properly attired to reflect a positive image of the game. Uniforms, accessories and equipment (including batting gloves that must be worn, carried in the hands or put out of sight in pockets) must be worn properly and as designed.”
Holmes said she expects Division I softball to begin enforcing that rule beginning with the NCAA tournament, but that won’t deter the Tigers from exploiting whatever loopholes they can.
“I think we’ll find a way to be crazy without all that stuff,” senior Sandra Simmons said. “We’ll find things within our dugout, within our equipment, just to rally us up, and we’ll just be crazier with our voices than we’ve needed to be.”
Jaquish said she’s planning to use the dugout’s Powerade cups for alternative rally high jinks. But it won’t be that easy for Lil Rally.
“We’ll probably have to hide him somewhere, probably in the bathroom,” Jaquish said, laughing. “He’ll probably hold the soap instead of holding the hot sauce.”
Advocate sportswriter Les East contributed to this report.