The LSU softball team is preparing to put selective amnesia to productive use in this weekend’s NCAA regional.
Forget about that five-game losing streak they’re trying to break, including an one-and-done trip to the Southeastern Conference tournament. Stuff the boxscores from that skid in a bottle and toss it in the Mississippi River, never to return.
They are trying to remember the good times, namely the 18 NCAA tournament victories this senior-laden team has recorded the past three years. What it took to get them to get to a spot like this in 2016 and 2017 and 2018, and what they will have to do to advance.
“I think that’s the key to this whole thing,” LSU coach Beth Torina said Thursday, as her Tigers wrapped up preparations for Friday’s 4:30 p.m. regional opener against Monmouth. “It’s hard to find a team that’s as experienced as ours in this spot. Not only do we have kids who have played in the College World Series, but we’re playing a lineup of seniors in this spot. They understand the magnitude of the moment. You don’t have to talk to them about something like that. It’s already there.”
Torina is no stranger to trying to get her team pointed back in the right direction after driving off the road late in the season. Her 2017 team lost three of its last four regular-season games before marching all the way to the SEC tournament final, then won a regional at home and pulled a super regional shocker at Florida State to make LSU’s most recent trip to the Women’s College World Series.
The key as far as Torina is concerned: maintaining an even strain. Not trying to make this NCAA regional out to be anything bigger than it is.
“They just need to do what they’ve done all season long,” said Torina, whose Tigers come in as the No. 10 national seed with a 40-16 record. “That’s one thing we talked about today. We’re not going to talk about this as a big event. It’s just another event on our schedule. We’ve prepared the same. Every game this year has been important. We didn’t change what we did because it’s the regional this weekend.”
Losing streaks usually don’t have a single culprit as their source, but for LSU it’s easy to point most of the fingers to the Tigers’ offense. Or lack thereof. LSU has scored a combined five runs in its five straight losses, including a pair of shutouts.
“We just put our heads down and work,” senior shortstop Amber Serrett, her head crowned by the dirt-streaked visor she has worn for years (she insists she is not superstitious).
“The great thing about this program is we’re a postseason team. We work hard and know how to get where we want to go.”
Where they want to go is around the bases. Go around enough times and when you look up you may well find yourself in Oklahoma City for the WCWS.
The Tigers know what they have to do. And rehashing the frustrations of their past five games does them no good. It’s almost as if they have hit the erase button on 18½ minutes of Watergate tapes.
A fresh start here is what is required as far as they’re concerned.
“We’re looking at it as a new season,” senior second baseman Shemiah Sanchez said. “Everyone is starting off 0-0. It’s the top 64 teams in the country. So we have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
An “A” game that includes some offense. Surely the Tigers remember how to score some runs. But it will also help if they forget the games in which they didn't.