Softball opens up their season tomorrow, as they travel to Austin to face, in order, #19 UNC, #21 DePaul, and Texas. LSU is picked to finish second in the west behind national power Alabama, who is a chic pick to win the national title. Well, let's let Yvette Girouard tell you about the team, as she did at yesterday's media day:
"We're extremely excited about this year's team from the get-go. We have a coach's creed that we've talked to them about that every day we will strive for perfection. We know that no team or any player can be perfect, but while we're striving for perfection, we just might land on excellence. None of us are infatuated with just being merely good. That's a Vince Lombardi's statement. I didn't say it exactly right, but that's our motto from the coaching staff to the players this season. We're not interested in being good. This team has definite possibilities of being great. We're very excited about them. They get it."
It sounds like she's welcome high expectations while at the same time managing them. This team is probably not as good as Alabama, but that's not much of an insult. That said, LSU should set its sights on making the WCWS. I don't want to say Oklahoma City or bust, but that would be a good goal for the team.
Kirsten Shortridge is the only Tiger on the preseason All-SEC team, as she put up a terrific .426 batting average last year, coupled with 26 steals. Shortridge is the returning senior pitcher, and Girouard is saying the right things that the senior with the 3.26 ERA is the team's best pitcher, but no one much believes that.
That's because Rachele Fico makes her debut this weekend. If you haven't heard of Fico, go read this New York Times profile of her right now:
The real disappointment was that she gave up a hit to New Fairfield High, a blown bunt that turned the power in Fico's pitch into a bloop infield single. It was only the third one in the final season of an utterly dominant high school career, full of mind-boggling statistics. Her career record for Masuk, from Monroe, is 97-2, and she has not lost a game in two years. Her earned run average is 0.06. She has struck out 1,723 batters. And she has pitched a national high school record 25 perfect games.
That's right. She allowed three hits all season. Three. She actually finished her senior year with 1886 strikeouts and a national high school record 26 perfect games. Excited yet? If it is possible to have an overhyped softball recruit, Fico is it.
LSU has a recent history of great pitchers (Sneed, Schmidt, Turner), but Fico is being hyped as better than all of them. That's a tall order, as she is essentially being asked to bring LSU its first national title. No pressure, girl. It's not like we expect it this year. We'll give you one year to get your feet wet.