LSU softball coach Beth Torina said she doesn’t even have to hype her team up as the Tigers prepare to face Southeastern Conference rival Florida this weekend.
“It’s easy to get up for a game like this — that’s the fun part,” Torina said. “It’s fun to compete in the SEC, and I think you feel that way every SEC series.”
No. 9 LSU is looking to continue its success on both sides of the ball in its SEC home opener against the seventh-ranked Gators.
“We all that (Florida) can pitch and hit,” LSU catcher Michaela Schlattman said. “It’s just about playing LSU softball and doing what we do best. We know that every team is beatable and if we play our game, we can do great things this weekend.”
LSU’s hot offense will have to face off against Florida’s dominant pitching staff lead by senior Kelly Barnhill. In 19 appearances this season, Barnhill has posted a 1.19 ERA.
Consequently, LSU has the second-highest team batting average in the SEC at .355 to go along with an SEC-leading 51 doubles.
“I think we need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Torina said. “Our offense is our strength. We just continue to swing big and keep taking the same at bats that we’ve been taking.
“Obviously, we have a plan and approach for every pitcher we see and we’ll spend some time preparing for Kelly Barnhill the same way we prepare for every pitcher on the schedule. Hopefully our offense stays confident and can continue to put up good numbers.”
Freshman pitcher Shelby Wickersham said that having an offense that is so capable of putting up big numbers like that — LSU is averaging seven runs per game — makes it that much easier for her to remain confident in the circle.
Torina said being a freshman in the SEC is hard, and being a freshman pitcher is even harder, but both Wickersham and fellow freshman pitcher Ali Kilponen were able to get experience during LSU’s opening series against Texas A&M.
While Wickersham was able to secure a run-rule victory in game one against the Aggies, Kilponen took the loss in the series finale.
“The SEC is hard and just getting that experience was really good for both of them and they’re just going to keep improving and learn what they did good and what they didn’t do so well,” Schlattman said.
Schlattman said both freshman pitchers have good stuff with high ceilings, but it will just take experience for them to reach their full potential.
Torina said she learns more about this team and these players every day and what situations they are able to be successful in and she hopes to carry that into a long stretch of SEC games, starting with the Gators this weekend.
“(This weekend) is super exciting,” Wickersham said. “We know the atmosphere is going to be great. There no other like Tiger fans. We’re just hoping to come out here and show what we got against a good Florida team.