LSU cuts ribbon on Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Hall of Fame

LSU held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night to mark the completion of the Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Hall of Fame in Alex Box Stadium.

Located on the ground level, third-base side of the stadium, the Hall of Fame celebrates the history of LSU baseball through words, photographs and video. It contains numerous artifacts, including the Tigers’ national championship rings and trophies, vintage uniforms and Major League memorabilia.

The Hall of Fame will open to the public on Feb. 15 before LSU’s 2013 season opener against Maryland. The facility will be open throughout the season before and during home games in Alex Box Stadium.

Participating in Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony were Wally Pontiff Sr., LSU vice chancellor and director of athletics Joe Alleva, former LSU athletic director and coach Skip Bertman and LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who directed the Tigers to the 2009 national championship.

The facility is named in memory of Wally Pontiff Jr., a two-time all-SEC selection at LSU who died because of heart complications on July 24, 2002 at the age of 21.

Pontiff was a three-year starter for the Tigers from 2000 through 2002 at third base and DH, and he helped lead the Tigers to the 2000 national championship.

Pontiff, the MVP of the 2000 Southeastern Conference tournament, was also a two-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and a member of the 2002 District VI all-academic baseball team with a 3.25 GPA in biological sciences.

Wally Pontiff Sr. created the Wally Pontiff Jr. Foundation, which has thrived over the past decade as a philanthropic organization that benefits several charitable causes in Louisiana.

The Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Hall of Fame was produced by the LSU Athletics Department in partnership with Cannon Design of Arlington, Va., and 1220 Exhibits of Nashville, Tenn.

Track and field

LSU TEAMS SET FOR NEW YORK TRIP: The LSU track and field teams make their annual trip to The Armory in New York for the Armory Collegiate Invitational being held Friday and Saturday.

The meet kicks off Friday with the field events at 8:30 a.m., followed by the first events on the track at 9:15 a.m. Saturday’s track events begin at 7:30 a.m. with field events at 7:45 a.m.

“This is a meet that both of our teams look forward to each season. The Armory is an iconic venue for this sport and creates a tremendous environment in which to compete year in and year out,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “It’s hard to believe, but we’re now into the second half of the indoor season. It will be important for each of our athletes on the trip to take advantage of this opportunity to compete.”

The No. 6 Tigers will face a field featuring No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Oregon, No. 11 Texas, No. 15 Mississippi State, No. 19 BYU, No. 20 Stanford and No. 22 Oklahoma.

The No. 5 Lady Tigers face nationally ranked teams No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Kansas, No. 4 Arkansas, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 Florida, No. 14 Texas, No. 16 Stanford and No. 21 South Carolina.

Last season, the Tigers scored 75 points in two days last season to finish runner-up to Texas A&M (85 points) for the men’s team title. The Lady Tigers took home a third-place finish with 60 points to finish behind Clemson (93) and BYU (64).

Two LSU seniors return to this weekend’s as reigning event champions — Damar Forbes in the long jump and Charlene Lipsey in the 1,000 meters.

Lipsey set the Armory Collegiate Invitational meet record in winning the women’s 1,000-meter run a year ago with a time of 2 minutes, 44.34 seconds. Forbes captured the men’s long jump crown with a jump of 26 feet, ¾ inches.

LSU will send six other athletes and two relay teams in the Top 10 in the NCAA rankings.

Natoya Goule, the reigning SEC Women’s Runner of the Week, will compete in the 400-meter dash just one week after claiming the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA in the 800 meters after claiming a victory at the Razorback Invitational with a season-opening run of 2:03.49.

The Lady Tigers will also feature Kimberlyn Duncan, the NCAA’s No. 3-ranked performer in the 60-meter dash with a personal best of 7.22; Keri Emanuel, the No. 4-ranked triple jumper this season with an indoor PR of 42-8 ¾; Denise Hinton, the NCAA’s No. 8-ranked weight thrower at 67-6; and Jasmin Stowers, the No. 10-ranked 60-meter hurdler with a best of 8.25.

Headlining the Tigers’ roster this week is Aaron Ernest at No. 3 in the 200 meters (20.79) and No. 20 in the 60 meters (6.70) and senior Caleb Williams at No. 7 in the 400 meters (46.98).

Gymnastics

LSU TRAVELS TO KENTUCKY: In Lexington, Ky., the sixth-ranked LSU gymnastics team jumps back into Southeastern Conference competition against No. 16 Kentucky at 6 p.m. Friday in Memorial Coliseum.

Free live audio will be available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live at 5:55 p.m.

LSU (5-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a season-high 197.100 at the Metroplex Challenge, the first 197 score since March 2010.

Last week, LSU exploded for a 49.500 on vault, 49.450 on bars and 49.400 on floor en route to the 197.100, and six different Tigers tallied at least one 9.90 or higher.

“We went in to practice this week and focused on correcting the little things and making the improvements that need to be made,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “The kids responded well to that challenge, and we saw a lot of determination and effort to improve.”

Four Tigers are ranked in the top 25 in the individual standings.

Rheagan Courville is No. 4 on floor, No. 14 on vault and No. 17 in the all-around. Kaleigh Dickson is No. 4 on bars and No. 18 in the all-around after she set a career high with a 39.275 at Metroplex. Sarie Morrison is No. 6 on bars and No. 10 on vault, and she won the vault title last week with a career-high tying 9.925. Randi Lau is No. 8 on vault after she tied her career mark with a 9.90 last week.

Kentucky (4-2, 2-1) ranks 16th nationally with a 195.238 average.

The Wildcats are 15th on floor, 18th on bars, 19th on beam and 25th on vault as a team.

Softball

PROMOTIONS SCHEDULE UNVEILED: The LSU marketing department has revealed its softball promotions schedule for the upcoming season.

LSU host its second annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer Teal Game” when Missouri visits Tiger Park on April 20. The Tigers will wear special teal jerseys to support ovarian cancer survivors, and the first 1,000 fans will get at teal rally towel. Before the game, LSU will honor ovarian cancer survivors.

Promotions begin with “Trading Card Night” March 13 against Nicholls State.

LSU begins its 12-game Southeastern Conference home schedule with a weekend series versus Kentucky on March 15-17. Friday’s series opener will mark the program’s annual “Gold Game” where all fans in attendance are encouraged to wear gold.

On Saturday, the first 500 fans can pick up a commemorative lapel pin honoring the Tigers’ run to the 2012 Women’s College World Series. As part of “Geaux Green Day” at the park, the first 750 fans will get color-changing stadium cups for St. Patrick’s Day.

The Tigers will have a pair of “Student Point” contests against Georgia Southern on March 19 and Missouri on April 19. In addition to $1 tickets for “Pack the Park” for the Missouri series opener on April 19, the first 1,000 fans will receive a koozie.

The South Carolina game on March 22 is part of “Teacher Appreciation Night”. The first 500 fans will get a softball pennant. “Dads and Daughters” day is scheduled for March 23, and the first 500 fans will get bat pens.

“Kids Day at Tiger Park Beach” is scheduled for the March 30 doubleheader against Samford in which 750 pairs of sunglasses will be given away.

LSU will hold its annual “Bark in the Park” event against Missouri on April 21.

“Family Day” and “Senior Day” will be held during the Alabama series on April 27. The first 500 fans will get a foam claw.

For a full listing of season-long and single-game promotions, visit www.LSUsports.net/promotions.

Free posters, schedule cards and game programs will all be available every game at the Tiger Fan Zone located on the concourse. Fans also can line the left field fence on the berm following each game to get autographs from their favorite players.

Season tickets can be purchased for $75 at www.LSUtix.net for a home schedule featuring 15 games against 2012 NCAA tournament participants.