LSU’s Rachele Fico’s father dies

A day after the LSU softball team lost to Louisiana-Lafayette in the championship round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, standout senior pitcher Rachele Fico suffered a far greater loss.

Fico’s father, Ralph, died early Monday in a Metairie hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for terminal cancer, LSU spokesman Matt Dunaway confirmed.

“The world lost a fighter, but heaven gained an angel. R.I.P. Daddy 5-20-13,” Fico tweeted Monday morning, along with a photo of her and her father taken last year at the Women’s College World Series.

LSU softball coach Beth Torina lauded Fico for showing courage and focus during regional play, helping lead the Tigers in their home ballpark as her father fought for his life.

Fico pitched twice for LSU in the regional, losing 3-0 to ULL on Saturday and 1-0 on Sunday. In both outings, she allowed only two hits. Dunaway said Torina drove Fico to Metairie after the game Sunday so she could be with her family.

A senior right-hander from Oxford, Conn., Fico arrived at LSU before the 2010 season as one of the most decorated recruits in program history. She finished her career Sunday with a four-year record of 78-43 and 792 strikeouts.

In the wake of her father’s death, Fico has received support, much of it via social media, from LSU fans and the college softball community, Dunaway said.