The LSU softball team had a monster opening weekend at Tiger Park in which it outscored opponents 73-2 — but coach Beth Torina and the Tigers say they're not dwelling on that success.
Now LSU is diving head-first into St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, where it will face four Top 25 opponents in five games.
“I’m trying not to view it as a test, but as an opportunity to grow,” Torina said. “We’ve got young pitching, and they need to be in these situations. Instead of it being a measuring stick, we want it to be an opportunity to keep getting better.”
LSU opens the event at 9 a.m. Thursday against No. 20 Oklahoma State, followed by No. 19 Oregon, No. 11 Texas and Ohio State.
Saturday brings the biggest game of the weekend against No. 1 Florida State — which eliminated the Tigers in last year's super regionals in Tallahassee.
Junior right-hander Maribeth Gorsuch said LSU was always confident in its defense and its lineup, but this weekend is an opportunity to keep prove the Tigers can compete and beat elite competition.
“I think our players came here to play the best competition, and we try to give it to them all the time,” Torina said. “Whether it’s early or late (in the season), we try to put them up against the best. I think that’s why our teams have had success in the past, because they’ve been battle-tested all year long.”
And despite one of the best opening weekends in program history, the Tigers are far from a finished product.
Torina said the offense needs to maintain its power and discipline at the plate going into this weekend.
In the circle, Gorsuch said she personally needs to work on getting ahead and staying ahead in the count, as well as getting more strikeout pitches.
“There’s always improvements,” Torina said. “I think besides the pitching and defense, the offense was really impressive throughout — not just with the base hits and run-scoring, but I thought the discipline they showed at the plate was really good. I hope they can continue to do that going forward.”
Junior Amanda Doyle said she believes people doubted LSU, with a revamped pitching staff and reworked infield, and that the Tigers showed everybody they’re still the same type of team they've been in recent years.
“We just want to play LSU softball. ... We can hit, we can pitch, we can do everything,” Doyle said. “If we play our game, we’re going to be good. Obviously our goal is to win all the games, but ultimately we just want to take something out from each game.”