Women’s College World Series Preview

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On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez & Victor Anderson talk to Oklahoma Sooners Softball radio voice Chris Plank about the Sooners path getting back to the Women’s College World Series.

Among the topics Plank discussed included

  •  Sooners getting back to Oklahoma City
  •  Up and Downs of 2017
  • Strength of Big 12
  • Oklahoma not being a Top 8 seed.

Also in Podcast Eric and Victor recap the Super Regional as well as give outlook of the Women’s College World Series as well as quick thoughts on D2 and D3 Championships.

In The Circle with Chris Plank 

 

 

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LSU Has Proven to Be a TV Draw

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LSU’s Beth Torina in her 6th season at LSU

LSU Softball has proven to been very good to ESPN as the Tigers has become the TV draw in College Softball.

Saturday Night’s ESPN National telecast of LSU hosting Missouri was the most watched Softball game of the regular season and most watched regular season Softball telecast in multiple years as the Tigers loss to Missouri garnered 534,000 viewers. It is the most watched non NCAA Tournament Softball game since 2015 SEC Championship Game when Auburn and Tennessee garnered 887,000 viewers.

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Beth Torina – Photo by LSUSports.Net

It continues the trend that if LSU is involved, Softball fans are tuning in. LSU has been involved in the most watched Softball telecasts for the last few years.

In 2016, LSU was involved in three of the top five most watched non NCAA Tournament Softball telecasts including the most watched broadcast being the 2016 SEC Tournament game against Auburn.

Last year, LSU Super Regional Game two at James Madison in an early afternoon game was the second most watched Super Regional game behind only Game one between Auburn and Arizona.

In 2015, LSU Regional win over Arizona State was the most watched regional game that year and LSU lost to Michigan in Semi-Final of the Women’s College World Series was the fourth most watched WCWS game ever.

1. 2007 Championship Finals – Game 3 Tennessee vs. Arizona 2,326,000
2.       2015 Championship Finals – Game 3 Michigan vs. Florida 2,273,000
3. 2005 Championship Finals – Game 3 Michigan vs. UCLA 2,240,000
4.       2015 Game 12 LSU vs. Michigan 1,950,000
5. 2007 Championship Finals – Game 2 Arizona vs. Tennessee 1,919,000
6.       2015 Championship Finals – Game 2 Florida vs. Michigan 1,865,000
7. 2003 Championship California vs. UCLA 1,852,000
8. 2009 Championship Finals – Game 2 Florida vs. Washington 1,788,000
9.       2015 Game 9 UCLA vs. Auburn 1,612,000
10. 2004 Championship California vs. UCLA 1,593,000

Some if it is good games against good opponent  as well as success LSU has had over the last few years. But there no denying that the numbers show that LSU Softball is very popular nationally and its not an accident ESPN puts them in these marquee TV slots. They have the numbers and they see the trends.

 

Rachele Fico talks Balancing Coaching and Playing Career

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Rachele Fico in her 2nd season as Asst Coach at Georgia. Photo Courtesy of Georgia Athletics.

On this edtion of In The Circle,  Eric Lopez talks to Rachele Fico about coaching in college softball as Fico in her 2nd season as Asst Coach at Georgia. Fico compares coaching to playing softball.  Fico also discusses the following.

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Fico was honored in 2015 with Banner at Tiger Park. (Photo by Nick Torina)
  • Who inspired Fico during her softball career?
  • Balancing Coaching with playing in the NPF
  • Advice Fico would give softball players who wants to coach and play
  • What it was like to return to LSU as an opponent in 2015 as Asst coach at South Alabama and get honored before the game?
  • What is it like to coach at Georgia and in the SEC?
  • What is Fico’s Coaching philosophy in coaching pitchers?
  • Reflecting on LSU Career
  • What it was like to return to LSU as an opponent?
  • Playing for Akron Racers
  • Comparing making WCWS as a Player at LSU to making WCWS as an Asst coach at Georgia

   Interview with Rachele Fico Episode 83

Fico was a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American at LSU as well as a three-time NFCA All-South Region First-Team member and three-time all-Southeastern Conference honoree. 
During her freshman season with the Tigers in 2010, Fico was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year. Fico led LSU to the Women’s College World Series in 2012. Fico ended her Tigers career among LSU’s top five in appearances (149), starts (104), complete games (82), innings pitched (774.0), wins (78), saves (8), opposing batting average (0.195), shutouts (32), strikeouts (797) and strikeouts per seven innings (7.21).

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Rachele Fico plays for Akron Racers in the NPF. Photo Courtesy of NPF.

Fico was the the No. 1 draft pick in the  2013 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Akron Racers where she has played her entire career highlighted by being An All-NPF Team selection in 2014.

While Fico has been playing in the NPF, Fico began her college coaching career  serving as an assistant coach at South Alabama during the 2015 season. Fico helped the Jaguars take the Sun Belt Conference crown and advanced to its fourth-straight NCAA Regional Tournament. Under Fico’s guidance, the USA pitching staff held a 2.51 ERA that was top 30 in the NCAA.

Fico went from South Alabama to Georgia for the 2016 season where in her first year with the Bulldogs, Fico helped the pitching staff to a 2.27 ERA, as the team collected 46 wins. Fico got to work with  Chelsea Wilkinson, who led the SEC with 28 victories and a NFCA All-Region selection. The Bulldogs would advance to the program’s third Women’s College World Series appearance which included knocking off defending National Champions Florida in the Super Regionals in Gainesville.

Here is my Interview with Rachele Fico during her rookie year in the NPF in 2013 as she played with former LSU Teammate Brittany Mack at Akron.

 

 

Beth Torina Gives LSU 2017 Outlook

On this edition of In The Circle,  LSU’s Head Coach Beth Torina discusses the Tigers upcoming 2017 season. Among the topics Torina discussed included

  • Winning with a Pitching Staff instead of one pitcher
  • Having former players she coached go into coaching.
  • Torina thoughts on NCAA Changing Super Regionals schedule to now 1 game each day instead of possible 2 games on day 2?
  • How Softball players changed from when she played to now
  • Winning CUSA Championship Tournament in her hometown of Orlando in 2007 as an asst coach at Houston.
  • What would Torina change if anything in Softball if in charge?
  • On being a role model for future female coaches.
  • Enjoy Coaching more then playing Softball?

In The Circle with Beth Torina

Torina enters her sixth season as Head Coach of the LSU softball program. Torina has a returned the Tigers to national prominence with two 50-win seasons, two 40-win seasons and three trips to the Women’s College World Series in 2012, 2015 and 2016 in  her first five seasons.

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LSU advanced to WCWS for 2nd straight season and third time under Torina.(Photo Courtesy of LSU)

Since taking the reins of the program prior to the 2012 season, Torina has now led the Tigers to the pinnacle of the sport more than any other LSU head coach, while becoming the first to lead the team to Oklahoma City in consecutive seasons in program history. She is averaging 45 wins per season in Baton Rouge.

Torina’s Tigers are coming off a 2016 season that saw the Tigers end the season as the third ranked team in the nation, finishing the year with a 52-18 overall record, winning 50 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time for the Tigers since 2006 and 2007. LSU made it to Oklahoma City in dramatic fashion going  on the road to James Madison and  became the 15th team in the super regional era, and fifth team on the road, to drop the first game and go on to win the next two games of the Super Regional to advance to Oklahoma City.

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Beth Torina Being Interviewed by radio voice of LSU Softball Patrick Wright. – Photo by LSUSports.Net
In 2017  LSU once again will be deep in pitching with experience as Carley Hoover, Allie Walljasper, and Sydney Smith. The staff also has newcomer in Freshman Maribeth Gorsuch who part of the strong 2017 LSU Class.
On offense ,The Tigers will be led by  Sahvanna Jaquish, who will be SEC player of the Year candidate for the Tigers. The Tigers will need to fill the shoes left by Bianka Bell who graduated and is now student coach for Torina this season.
One of new newcomers expected to contribute to the offense is freshman infielder Amanda Doyle  who recently was selected as one of 24 athletes to continue training for the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team this  upcoming summer.

LSU schedule once again among toughest in the nation facing 16 NCAA Tournament teams from 2016. The Tigers  will host three non-conference tournaments in the first four weeks of the season in February and early March. LSU will play 16 of the first 22 in Tiger Park.5751f24943973-image

The 24-game SEC slate for Torina’s Tigers begins with a familiar foe with a road series at Auburn  as both teams have played eight times over the last three years, including meeting up in the SEC Tournament title game last May.

All four of LSU’s SEC road opponents qualified for NCAA’s, while two in Auburn and Alabama both made it to the WCWS as well. The Crimson Tide will be LSU’s second away SEC series April 7-9 in Tuscaloosa, kicking off a stretch of seven consecutive road games, ending the following weekend with a trip to Oxford to take on Ole Miss.

LSU Conference home series opener will be against the Georgia Bulldogs who LSU elimiated in last year’s Women’s College World Series. The Bulldogs have former LSU pitching great Rachelle Fico who Torina coached from 2012-2013 is in her second season as pitching at Georgia.

Torina coaching career began her coaching career as an assistant coach at Stetson University from 2000-02, leaving her mark on the Hatters’ softball program after helping lead the 2001 squad to a share of the regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship.

Torina then went to Houston and  spent five seasons as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Houston from 2003-07. The Cougars claimed the 2007 Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. One of Torina’s most prized recruits, Angel Shamblin, went on to become a three-time C-USA Pitcher of the Year (06-08), an NFCA All-South Region selection and a 2008 NFCA All-American.

Success at Houston led Torina to her first Head Coaching job at Florida International Torina was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year  twice during her run at FIU leading the  Panthers to a 129-111 record in four seasons and directed FIU to the NCAA Tournament Regional Final in 2010.

During her playing career, Torina help guide the Florida Gators to the 1998 Southeastern Conference regular season championship team as the team’s ace pitcher. Torina posted 60 career wins, which currently ranks tied for fourth in the Gators record book.

To follow the Tigers season with latest news. Go to LSUSports.net