Softball goes for third SEC tourney title in a row

PLANT CITY, Fla. -- The two-time defending Southeastern Conference Tournament champion LSU softball team travels is the third seed for the 2003 edition of the conference tournament.<br><br>The Tigers begin play today against sixth-seeded Tennessee at 11 a.m. CT.

The double elimination tournament begins with the LSU-Tennessee game and concludes with the championship game on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT. All of Tigers' games can be heard on the LSU Sports Network in Baton Rouge at WJNH-Jam'n 107.3 or on the Internet at Fans can also follow live stats from all the tournament games at

The 12th-ranked Tigers (45-14, 20-9 SEC) are making their seventh consecutive appearance in the league tournament and have won three of the last four championships. LSU has also advanced to the tournament finals for four consecutive seasons, losing the 2000 title to South Carolina, 1-0 in eight innings, the Tigers' last SEC Tournament loss.

LSU is currently riding a conference record eight-game tournament winning streak after having swept through the 2001 and 2002 brackets on its way to back-to-back titles. The Tigers are the only team in SEC history to have won consecutive tournament titles and the only team with three total tournament championships.

In its previous six appearances, LSU has posted a 19-5 (.792) tournament record, the best of any team in the league. The Tigers have met Tennessee (43-23, 14-15 SEC) once in the tournament, with LSU defeating the Lady Vols 8-1 in 1998.

Earlier this season, LSU took two out of three from Tennessee in Baton Rouge. The Tigers won game one, 4-0, before dropping a 3-2 decision in the second game. LSU rebounded to win the rubber match, 6-1. The Tigers now own a 19-4 all-time record against the Lady Vols.

Freshman Alicia Owen led LSU at the plate with a 5-for-9 (.556) performance and two RBIs against Tennessee. Sophomore Tessa Lynam combined to go 4-for-11 (.364) at the plate with a team-high five RBIs.

Sophomore Kristin Schmidt got all three decisions for LSU to post a 2-1 record. In 16 innings pitched, she allowed two runs on six hits with four walks and 14 strikeouts. In the first game she recorded a complete-game shutout, one of the 13 she has for the season.

In the second inning, she came on in relief in the sixth with the score tied and allowed just one hit, but unfortunately the hit was a home run that proved to be the game winner for the Lady Vols. She came back to throw a three-hitter to clinch the series in game three.

If the Tigers defeat Tennessee, they will advance to take on the winner of Thursday's 1 p.m. CT game between second-seeded Alabama and seventh-seeded Auburn on Friday at 5 p.m. CT. With a loss, LSU will face the loser of that game on Friday at 11 a.m. CT.

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