When he was looking for a softball coach to succeed Yvette Girouard, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Beth Torina was always on his list of candidates.
It took a while, and a stunning change of heart by LSU’s first choice, but Monday she finally made it to the top of the list.
LSU announced the hiring of Torina, head coach at Florida International, a week and a day after Pat Murphy’s decision to return to Alabama after he was introduced as LSU’s coach 48 hours earlier.
Torina will be introduced at LSU at a news conference on Wednesday.
Alleva is confident that this time he has a coach who will stick.
“She’s very excited to get the call and have a chance to coach at LSU,” Alleva said Monday.
“She’s talented, passionate, smart, and I think she will be very loyal and dedicated. I think she’ll be here a long time.”
Alleva’s last comment could well have been a veiled reference to Murphy. The highly successful Alabama coach made what turned out to be a cameo role as LSU’s coach at a June 10 news conference.
Two days later, Murphy pulled out, sending Alleva back into search mode.
“It all started over on Sunday after Pat changed his mind,” Alleva said.
“We went after a guy who has had a lot of success and thought we had him. It just didn’t work out. It happens sometimes.
“But I’m really pleased with this young lady. And I think our players will like playing for her. She’ll be a fit in our athletic department very early.”
Alleva declined to discuss terms of Torina’s contract, pending LSU Board of Supervisors approval.
Attempts to reach Torina on Monday through Florida International’s athletic department were unsuccessful.
Torina, 32, was 129-111 in four seasons at FIU, leading the program to its first NCAA tournament victory in 2010. She was twice named Sun Belt Conference coach of the year.
FIU went 31-27 in 2011 and did not earn an NCAA tournament invitation.
Torina also serves as an assistant coach under Florida head coach Tim Walton for the USSSA Florida Pride, defending champion of the National Professional Fastpitch League.
The Pride’s roster features multiple Olympians, including ESPN softball analyst Jessica Mendoza.
Despite lacking Murphy’s glittering résumé — he’s led Bama to seven Women’s College World Series appearances — Alleva said Torina came highly regarded.
“Every time we called someone in the softball world, her name came up time and time again,” he said.
Torina released a statement through FIU saying, “We’ve made so many friends in the community here, and the program has grown so much.
“Even more than wins and losses on the field, the growth of softball in the Miami area is FIU’s greatest achievement. I think that with the support of the administration and the level of talent the players possess, this program will continue to excel and succeed at the highest level.
“FIU will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will enjoy watching their continued success.”
Pete Garcia, FIU’s executive director of sports and entertainment, released a statement saying, “We want to thank Beth for all that she has done for FIU and wish her the best of luck with LSU.”
A native of Chicago Heights, Ill., Beth Dieter Torina (her husband’s name is Nick Torina) grew up in Orlando, Fla., and pitched for the Florida Gators from 1997-2000.
She ranks in the top five in 18 Florida career patching categories, including wins (60, tied for third), complete games (75, second) and innings pitched (716.2, third).
Torina was Florida’s only three-time Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll selection in softball (1998-2000).
Torina began her coaching career just outside Orlando at Stetson (2001-02), serving as pitching coach. Torina then worked in a similar role at the University of Houston from 2003-07.