POSTED: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 5:10pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 5:20pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — The LSU softball team will face its toughest challenge of the 2012 season to date with a quartet of games against No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 23 Oklahoma State over the weekend at The Preview hosted by USA Softball.
LSU (9-4) will play at campus sites on Friday and Sunday sandwiched between a Saturday trip to the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium which is the site of the Women’s College World Series.
The Tigers meet Oklahoma [Friday – 6 p.m.; Saturday – 4 p.m.] before squaring off with Oklahoma State [Saturday – 11 a.m.; Sunday – 12 p.m.].
“It is definitely a big weekend, a challenging weekend,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I think it will be a good spot to see where our kids are, to see how we are doing, a really good test to see where this team is. I know our team is very excited, and we have Morgan Russell going home to see her family. It is going to be challenging to play at both of their home fields then still a home crowd for them in the stadium at Oklahoma City.”
The Tigers carry a season’s best six-game winning streak into the weekend. LSU has garnered a .291 team batting average during its nine wins compared to a .180 ratio in its four losses. In those nine wins, the Tigers have outscored their opponents by an impressive 50-4 margin sparked by eight shutouts.
Rachele Fico, two-time Louisiana Pitcher of the Week, has compiled a 5-1 record with a paltry 0.37 ERA for the season. She has allowed just two earned runs over her 38 innings of work. The junior right-hander also has fired a trio of one-hitters.
Brittany Mack has evened her ledger at 3-3 and strung together back-to-back victories, while Meghan Patterson reeled off a career-best 13 strikeouts and carried a no-hit bid two outs into the sixth inning versus Alcorn State.
Fico and Patterson represented LSU’s pitching staff on the Tiger Invitational All-Tournament team a weekend ago.
“All three pitchers are throwing extremely well,” Torina said. “I am very happy with Rachele, and it’s exciting to watch her pitch. It seems the more pressure she faces in a situation, the better she seems to get. Meghan also has looked really impressive. I get more and more confident in her every time she heads to the mound.”
LSU’s offense has been fueled by Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos, who have combined to produce 17 of LSU’s 52 RBIs for the season from the heart of the order.
Tammy Wray has pieced together hits in four of her last seven outings after starting the season with a 0-for-10 clip at the plate.
Rikki Alcaraz is currently on a five-game hitting streak and has notched hits during seven of her eight starts at second base. She is hitting .462 during the streak.
Morgan Russell and Dylan Supak joined Alcaraz on last weekend’s Tiger Invitational All-Tournament team. Both provided key moments during last Saturday’s wins over McNeese State and South Alabama.
Russell has ripped off hits in four of her last six at-bats and contributed both of LSU’s RBIs highlighted by a sixth-inning solo home run during a 2-0 win over McNeese State. Supak capped a four-run first inning with a two-run single in LSU’s 5-4 victory against South Alabama.
“It is nice to be sitting at 9-4, it feels much better than last week,” Torina said. “We still need to improve in a lot of areas. I think our defense had some moments where we faltered. I thought our offense could have had better overall production as well. I thought our pitching staff still needs to put the ball in better locations at times, but ultimately you have to be happy when you come out 4-0 during a weekend.”
Follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live stats on www.LSUsports.net/livestats . Fans also can receive live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball  and @lsu_softball on Twitter.