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.
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.
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.
2007 Championship Finals – Game 3
Tennessee vs. Arizona
2015 Championship Finals – Game 3
Michigan vs. Florida
2005 Championship Finals – Game 3
Michigan vs. UCLA
2015 Game 12
LSU vs. Michigan
2007 Championship Finals – Game 2
Arizona vs. Tennessee
2015 Championship Finals – Game 2
Florida vs. Michigan
California vs. UCLA
2009 Championship Finals – Game 2
Florida vs. Washington
2015 Game 9
UCLA vs. Auburn
California vs. UCLA
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.
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.
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
Fico played for Yvette Girouard at LSU from 2010-2011. Photo Courtesy of LSU
Fico played for Beth Torina at LSU from 2012-2013. Photo Courtesy of LSU
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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