No. 4 seed Monmouth may not strike fear into the hearts of softball fans in the know, but the Hawks boast one of the top pitchers in the nation in Alyssa Irons.
LSU takes on Irons and the hawks in a first-round regional game at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Tiger Park.
The aptly named Irons, a right-handed sophomore and transfer from Hofstra, leads the nation in innings pitched with 2571/3, and is tied for second in the nation in victories with Florida’s Kelly Barnhill (30) behind Louisiana-Lafayette’s Summer Ellyson (37).
Irons is tied with Barnhill for fifth in the nation with 12 shutouts. She also has 33 complete games, one save, and 225 strikeouts with only 48 walks. Her earned run average is 1.47 and opponents are batting .182 against her.
LSU coach Beth Torina said the team has watched tape of Irons.
“She’s good; she’s a huge part of their team,” Torina said. “She’s got a lot of different weapons and can cover the entire zone. She has decent velocity so she’s going to be tough.”
LSU has faced its share to tough pitchers this season, including Barnhill, who shut the Tigers out on one-hit in their last game. LSU is looking to break a five-game losing streak when it takes on the Hawks.
“She’s great pitcher,” LSU pitcher/designated player Shelbi Sunseri said. “We have to take it one pitch at a time, hitting your best pitch. She does a little bit of everything. It’s something we’ve seen in the SEC.”
Monmouth (36-16) isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut but averages 4.3 runs per game. The Hawks’ 36 victories are tied for second in school history.
Junior Kayla Rosado is the team’s leading hitter with a .378 average with five homers and 32 RBIs and a .538 slugging percentage. Freshman Lindsey Baron is batting .354 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs, and junior Amber Wozniak is batting .304 with six homers and a team high 33 RBIs.
Texas Tech at a glance
The Red Raiders finished fourth in the Big 12 at 8-10 with a 39-14 overall mark. Coached by Adrian Gregory, Texas Tech has power numbers similar to LSU with 64 home runs. Four players have at least nine, led by Trenity Edwards with 14 and 41 RBIs. Leading hitter Karli Hamilton is batting .424 with eight homers and 41 RBIs.
The Raiders’ top two pitchers are junior Missy Zoch (16-10, 2.70) and sophomore left-hander Erin Edmundson (19-3, 3.07)
Louisiana Tech at a glance
The Techsters (44-14) won the Conference USA tournament in their seventh season under coach Mark Montgomery. Freshman third baseman Lindsay Edwards leads the offense with a .379 batting average, and has five homers and 38 RBIs. Senior outfielder Jazlyn Crowder has a team-high 10 homers and 55 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.
Senior Krystal De La Cruz is tops in the circle with a 17-3 record and 2.18 ERA. Senior Preslee Gallaway is 18-8 with a 2.95 ERA, five shutouts and 13 complete games.