Fresh of its NCAA College Station Regional and Columbia Super Regional championships, the LSU softball team will appear in the program’s third Women’s College World Series Thursday when the Tigers face off with No. 1 national seed California.


Fresh of its NCAA College Station Regional and Columbia Super Regional championships, the LSU softball team will appear in the program’s third Women’s College World Series Thursday when the Tigers face off with No. 1 national seed California.
 
First pitch is on-tap for 2:30 p.m. from the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2 along with ESPN3.com with Pam Ward, Michele Smith and Holly Rowe serving as the broadcast team.
 
LSU (39-23) picked up 6-1 and 3-1 triumphs over No. 9 national seed Missouri in between a 5-1 defeat in 12 innings to punch its ticket to the WCWS. The Tigers became only the third team since 2005 in the current regional/super regional to reach the WCWS after knocking off two seeded teams on the road.
 
“We’re thrilled and honored to be a part of this final eight,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We’re excited to be in Oklahoma City. The minute we set foot on the field for practice was something special. Our team is very excited to represent LSU on the biggest of stages.”
 
California (56-5) is paced by Valerie Arioto, a USA Softball Player of the Year finalist. She has racked up a team-leading .385 batting average to go along with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs. In the circle, Arioto has posted a 20-3 record and a 1.32 ERA. She has tallied 155 strikeouts in her 127.0 innings of action.
 
The Golden Bears offense also consists of Cheyenne Cordes, Frani Echavarria, Danielle Henderson, Breana Kostreba and Jace Williams who have all produced over 40 RBIs apiece. Jamia Reid has garnered a .385 hitting clip on 84 hits and 47 stolen bases from the top of the lineup.   
 
Jolene Henderson has secured wins in 36 of her 38 decisions and a blistering 1.10 ERA from the circle. The junior right-hander has mowed down 304 batters, the 13th highest total nationally.  She has fired 17 shutouts and held her opponents to a .189 batting average.
 
“Cal is definitely one of the best teams in the country, if not the best on paper,” Torina said. “They have two first team all-americans in Arioto and Henderson. We’ll definitely have our work cut for us to try and slow down their strong offense and talented pitching staff.”
 
Allison Falcon and Simone Heyward were the offensive heroes for LSU during the NCAA Columbia Super Regional. Falcon garnered a 2-for-3 effort with a career-best three RBIs the Tigers 6-1 game one victory, while Heyward delivered a bases-clearing double to collect her first extra-base hit in the winner-take-all rubber contest.  
 
“Our players have done a great job of focusing on being selfless,” Torina said. “They’ve been about doing things for one another. Simone has been huge for us in both the regional and the super regional round. We’re glad to have her back healthy and in the lineup.”
 
The Rachele Fico-Brittany Mack tandem has garnered 35 of LSU’s 39 wins and has put together an impressive NCAA postseason. The duo has racked up 45 strikeouts and held the opposition to a paltry .145 hitting ratio during 47 frames of NCAA Tournament action.  
 
Fico has notched 20-11 mark with a blistering 0.92 ERA, which is tops in the nation. Her 13 shutouts also are tied for fifth in the NCAA rankings. The Oxford, Conn., native followed up her NCAA College Station Regional performance and claimed both victories for the Tigers in the NCAA Columbia Super Regional sparked by a one run, two hit performance in game three of the series.
 
Mack racked up a career-high 17 strikeouts in a tough-luck, 12-inning loss to Missouri. LSU’s defense committed four errors which led to five unearned runs. For the season, the senior right-hander is 15-12 with a 2.21 ERA.
 
Ashley Langoni has posted hits in four of LSU’s six postseason outings. She is the Tiger triple-crown leader with a .265 batting average, six home runs and 30 RBIs. The senior left fielder also ranks among the program’s top 10 in career homers and RBIs.
 
Every LSU postseason game will have live audio and live stats inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The games also will be carried live on Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway set to call the action.
 
Fans can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @LSU_Softball on Twitter.