No matter what happens over the next month, LSU softball should be prepared.
After all, the Tigers already played most of the NCAA bracket.
Of the 63 teams in a regional tournament — not including LSU — the Tigers played almost a quarter of them. In total, 67 percent of LSU’s games this year were against teams still in the running for a national championship.
Those numbers are, of course, bolstered by the Southeastern Conference tying its own national record with all 13 of its teams making a regional for the second straight year.
But between a brutal SEC calendar and a challenging nonconference run, LSU’s biggest asset this weekend is its experience in tough games.
“We’ve had an extremely tough schedule this season and I really think it’s going to prepare us for postseason, as well,” center fielder Emily Griggs said. “But at the same time, every team becomes new when they’re in postseason. We have to do the preparation and the steps that we need to be prepared for the teams we’re going to face.”
If nothing else, the Tigers are a veteran group that knows how to win when it counts.
The senior class of Griggs, Carley Hoover, Allie Walljasper and Sydney Loupe are already the winningest group to ever walk through Tiger Park — new or old.
The seniors never played a season in which they didn’t go to the Women’s College World Series and they don’t plan to stop now.
Even the younger players know what to expect the next few weeks with only two freshmen in the starting lineup in right fielder Taryn Antoine and designated player Shelbi Sunseri. The rest made at least one trip to Oklahoma City, site of the Women's College World Series.
That experience came in handy this season as the Tigers took on one of the toughest schedules coach Beth Torina put together in her seven years.
Not only was LSU playing tournament teams, but it was playing some of the best.
LSU met each of the top three teams — Oregon, Florida and UCLA — during the regular season, along with seven of the other 15 regional hosts.
Only 10 of its opponents ranked outside of the Top 100 in the final RPI standings.
“That is a benefit of being in the SEC and being on this team the last four years. Nerves aren’t really a factor,” senior pitcher Carley Hoover said. “We’ve been on every stage. We’ve been on the biggest stage. We lost, but we’ve been there.”
But this season isn’t all about the tough teams LSU has played. Torina is equally proud of the fact LSU hasn't had a “bad loss” this year.
For the third straight year, LSU was perfect in midweek games.
The worst loss is to No. 46 North Dakota State at the LSU Round Robin in March, a tough 1-0 defeat in nine innings.
What the score line doesn’t show is the loss came in the second leg of a doubleheader that began with LSU and then-No. 13 Baylor going eight innings in a 5-3 Tigers win.
The rest of LSU’s losses were to strong teams, many on the road in SEC play, which Torina routinely touts as the toughest home-field advantage in the country.
“We just have to go out there playing our best softball, and go out there fighting until the last out,” Walljasper said. “It’s going to be a lot of competition.”