Pitcher Rachele Fico named to SEC preseason team

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — LSU senior pitcher Rachele Fico was one of 12 players named to the preseason All-Southeastern Conference team selected by the league’s coaches.

Fico, a 2012 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America first-team and USA Softball Top 25 Player of the Year Finalist, is coming off her the second 20-win season. She posted a 1.12 ERA and 13 shutouts last season to rank fourth and fifth in the nation.

Fico gave up only two earned runs in her first 28 innings during LSU’s run to the 2012 Women’s College World Series. She claimed regional and super regional MVP honors.

SEC All-Preseason Team

P – Rachele Fico, LSU

P – Jackie Traina, Alabama

C – Meagan May, Texas A&M

INF – Raven Chavanne, Tennessee

INF – Lauren Gibson, Tennessee

INF – Kaila Hunt, Alabama

INF – Madison Shipman, Tennessee

OF – Kayla Braud, Alabama

OF – RT Cantillo, Ole Miss

OF – Kat Dotson, Tennessee

OF – Morgan Estell, Auburn

DP/UTL – Mel Dumezich, Texas A&M

In other LSU softball team news, the Tigers are ranked No. 12 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 preseason poll.

LSU opens its season by hosting the Tiger Classic on Feb. 8-10. Other teams in the tournament include Hampton, No. 21 North Carolina, Purdue and Tulsa.

ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll

Rank, Team (First Place Votes), 2012 Record, Points, Final 2012 Ranking

1, Alabama (13) 60-8 490 1

2, Oklahoma (7) 54-10 486 2

3, California 58-7 449 3

4, Arizona State 53-11 445 4

5, Tennessee 52-14 414 7

6, Oregon 45-18 390 5

7, Missouri 47-14 346 11

8, Georgia 45-17 332 10

9, Texas 47-13 297 12

10, South Florida 50-14 285 8

11, Louisiana-Lafayette 53-6 272 9

12, LSU 40-25 263 6

13, Michigan 42-17 233 15

14, Arizona 38-19 226 13

15, Florida 48-11 225 16

16, Washington 39-19 213 14

17, Texas A&M 41-18 195 19

18, Louisville 55-5 188 18

19, UCLA 36-20 144 21

20, Stanford 40-19 131 20

21, North Carolina 43-15 69 25

22, Baylor 34-22 67 RV

22, Hofstra 42-15 67 17

24, Florida State 47-16 66 22

25, Hawaii 44-9 44 23

Track and field

GOULE RECEIVES SEC HONOR: Junior Natoya Goule made the most of her 800-meter debut for the Lady Tigers as she emerged from Saturday’s race as the NCAA leader in the event while claiming her first SEC Women’s Runner of the Week honor from the Southeastern Conference.

Goule is the second Lady Tiger in as many weeks to be chosen the SEC Women’s Runner of the Week as she joins senior standout Kimberlyn Duncan as being honored for her performance.

Goule and senior teammate Charlene Lipsey battled for the event title as she smashed her indoor PR by more than two seconds with a season-opening run of 2 minutes, 3.49 seconds. Lipsey also clocked an indoor personal best of 2:03.76 for second place.

Gymnastics

MATHIS NAMED SEC SPECIALIST OF THE WEEK: LSU junior gymnast Maliah Mathis was honored as the SEC Specialist of the Week on Tuesday.

Mathis turned in one of the best meets of her career Saturday at the Metroplex Challenge. She competed on vault and floor at Metroplex as she has done all season, and she scored a 9.90 and finished second in both events.

No. 6 LSU (5-2) travels to Lexington, Ky., to take on 16th-ranked Kentucky at 6 p.m. Friday in Memorial Coliseum.

Women’s tennis

LADY TIGERS RECRUITING CLASS RANKED SCHOOL-BEST NO. 16: The recruiting class of the LSU women’s tennis team (2-0) was ranked a school-best No. 16 in the winter rankings reported by the Tennis Recruiting Network.

LSU signed three five-star prospects set to begin play in the fall in Skylar Holloway, Gabrielle Otero and Abigail Owens.

Holloway, from Oxon Hill, Md., is No. 74 nationally is Maryland’s No. 2 player.

Otero, from Albuquerque, N.M., ranks at No. 49 nationally, holds the No. 1 position in New Mexico.

Owens, from Duluth, Ga., is the No. 47 player in the nation and Georgia’s No. 2 ranked player.