Samford up next for LSU softball team

The LSU softball team didn’t have much fun during its most recent game, a 12-5 loss Wednesday at South Alabama.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the No. 13-ranked Tigers will try to finish their March schedule with a nonconference doubleheader against Samford at 1 p.m. Saturday.

LSU (28-7) has won 10 of 12 outings since March 10, but Wednesday’s game — albeit a tough matchup against the No. 25-ranked Jaguars — was somewhat surprising;

“We’re looking forward to getting back on the field after the performance we had on Wednesday against South Alabama,” coach Beth Torina said. “Knowing what we have ahead of us during the month of April, it’s important that get back to the basics of playing Tiger softball, and that starts versus Samford. We’ll need to have strong pitching performances, play solid defense and swing the bats extremely well every time we take the field to be able to reach our goals.”

Samford (10-18) is led by Rachel Bickert’s .316 batting average, Callie Brister’s three home runs and Alex Adams’ 14 RBIs. The Bulldogs have lost three straight and eight of their last 10 outings without starting pitcher Mollie Hanson.

Misha Aldridge and Shelby Scott have tallied three wins in her absence.

LSU’s pitching staff will look to regain its form after giving up season highs of 12 runs and 15 hits versus South Alabama. The staff has racked up 254 strikeouts, second-most in the Southeastern Conference, this season.

Rachele Fico has provided 161 of those strikeouts, tops on the SEC leaderboard. She is 16-5 and will look to end a two-game skid. The senior right-hander has already tossed nine shutouts and claimed a pair of SEC Pitcher of the Week awards this season.

Meghan Patterson has posted a 5-2 mark with a staff-low 1.72 ERA. In her last start, Patterson came away with seven strikeouts and threw 6.2 frames of four-hit ball against Southeastern Louisiana.

Ashley Czechner has won all seven of her decisions and been used both as a starter and in relief.

Over her last three starts, Czechner has fired a pair of one-hit shutouts and limited the opposition to two runs on four hits in addition to a paltry .068 batting average.

Offensively, Bianka Bell has carried the load lately. Over her last eight games, Bell has hit .400 with five home runs and 11 RBIs. She belted her first career grand slam during the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game at South Alabama.

“Bianka is a special hitter, a really talented hitter,” Torina said. “We know that she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years with this program. It’s nice to see her start to do the things that she’s capable of doing.”

Jacee Blades has a team-leading .380 average.

Sandra Simmons heads into Saturday’s doubleheader on a career-high seven-game hitting streak, while Tammy Wray has had 12 of her 22 hits on the season produce an RBI. Wray’s seven homers and 21 RBIs rank second on the team.

Rikki Alcaraz has started 16 of LSU’s last 20 games and emerged as the primary option at designated player. She has a .404 batting average and has added an RBI in five of her last eight appearances.