LSU softball team plans ‘to keep pushing to get to No. 1’ _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Beth Torina speaks with her players between innings against Memphis, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at LSU's Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.

Head out to Tiger Park for practice and you’ll see the worst softball team in the country.

If all goes to LSU coach Beth Torina’s plan, her team — off to its best start in school history at 16-0 — will practice like it’s 0-16.

“But we’ll show up Friday night and be 16-0 again and be confident, be attacking at the plate with whoever we face,” Torina reassured. “We’re going to work this week like we’re the worst team in the country and try to just continue to get better and better.”

For the first time since April 2013, the Tigers entered the NFCA top 10 on Tuesday — even receiving one first-place vote. They will face a five-game set this weekend at the Purple & Gold Challenge at Tiger Park, starting with a pair of games Friday. They play Stephen F. Austin at 5 p.m. and Ball State at 7:30 p.m.

There’s a group text message going among the players, and sophomore pitcher Kelsee Selman said it lit up Tuesday with news of the team’s jump in the polls.

“We want that. We want it to be more than one (first-place) vote, so we’re just going to keep pushing to get to No. 1,” Selman said. “It’s definitely what we expected of ourselves. We don’t expect anything less than what we’re doing so we just have really big expectations.”

Selman (3-0) sits second on the pitching staff with a 0.84 ERA, just behind freshman Allie Walljasper’s 0.59 mark.

Selman, Walljasper, Carley Hoover and Baylee Corbello have teamed for a 1.03 ERA through the first 16 games, racking up 109 strikeouts in 102 innings.

As they’ve now begun to term themselves, the “Fantastic Four” and their benefits are extending far beyond just games.

“It’s really been a blessing to have them,” said sophomore catcher/infielder Sahvanna Jaquish. “As a hitter, it really shines a light on the weaknesses and I feel like it’s really helped us throughout the lineup.”

Jaquish, tied for the team lead in home runs and the reigning SEC Player of the Week, admitted Walljasper’s backdoor curveball has made her “look like an idiot” at a few practices, and Hoover’s velocity gives any hitter trouble.

Ahead of the weekend’s pre-Southeastern Conference tuneup, Torina said the Tigers’ record-setting winning streak to open the season isn’t weighing on the team’s mind, though one particular victory has been a constant motivation.

The Tigers edged then-No. 13 Arizona 4-3 last Friday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, California, exacting revenge on the same team that ended LSU’s season in 2014 at the Tuscon Regional.

“We needed that to follow up on the end of last season.” Torina said. “I think the fact that they ended our season last year — that was a game that this team had earmarked and circled on the schedule from Day 1.

“A tough test, but we passed,” Torina said. “Onto the next one.”