LSU set to begin action in World Series today

Clyde Verdin
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For the first time since 2012 and just the fourth time ever in program history, the No. 8 LSU softball team returns to softball’s biggest stage today, opening play at the 2015 Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field against the Auburn Tigers at 1:30 p.m. in Oklahoma City.

One of the last eight teams left standing after two rounds of NCAA Tournament play, LSU will be vying for the program’s first national championship this week, as the double-elimination event will pare the eight down to just two, with a three-game championship series crowning a champion beginning next Monday. Every game of the WCWS will be aired on ESPN or ESPN2 and online on WatchESPN.

“I feel like starting back in the fall this team was on a mission. They worked so hard, and they truly earned this moment,” head coach Beth Torina said.

Battling through three elimination games two weeks ago and through a scrappy Arizona team last week, the Tigers have accumulated a 6-1 record in the postseason, sweeping the Wildcats in the best-of-three Super Regional this past weekend to book its trip to OKC as the final entrant to the final tournament of the season.

In qualifying for the WCWS, it helps merge the past and the present, as it gives outgoing seniors A.J. Andrews, Dylan Supak and Kailey McCasland a second trip to Oklahoma City, a feat a rare few that have donned the Purple and Gold have done in the program’s history.

Leading the way throughout the tournament, much of that due in part to her unstoppable game last Sunday, Simmons has led the offensive charge for the squad to the tune of a team-best .550 batting average and 11 hits, along with her eight RBIs which also leads the group. The Junior from Fountain Valley, Calif. has an .850 slugging percentage in the postseason, scoring four times and leading the group with 17 total bases for a .565 on-base percentage.

Following very closely has been Andrews, along with sophomore Bailey Landry as the two have combined for 20 hits, 10 each, with 14 total runs scored and seven RBIs. Landry is hitting .435 and is slugging .826, claiming two, or in this point half, of the squad’s four postseason home runs, while being walked four times. Andrews is hitting .417, also drawing four walks, while being a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases.

LSU is 6-6 all-time in the WCWS, as in the 2012 edition of the tournament the Tigers finished fifth overall. The highest placing for the team has been third place twice back in 2001 and 2004.

On LSU’s side of the bracket are many familiar faces, as Florida and Tennessee are both in LSU’s quadrant, while the other side features Alabama, Oregon, Michigan and UCLA. LSU is 5-4 against the teams on its side, with series wins against Florida and Tennessee, while looking to earn another win against Auburn as they are playing for the fourth time in the last four weeks alone.