Softball readies for Palm Springs Classic

The 19th-ranked LSU softball team takes to the road for the first time this season as the Tigers participate in the Palm Springs Classic, beginning on Friday with match-ups against No. 3 UCLA at 5:30 p.m. (CT) and No. 11 Oregon State at 10:30 p.m. (CT) at the Big League Dreams Complex.

Tournament play continues on Saturday as LSU faces Texas Tech at 5:30 p.m. (CT) and UC-Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. (CT). The Tigers will conclude tournament play on Sunday at Stanford at 11 a.m. (CT). The game will be televised on ESPNU, marking the first regular season appearance by LSU softball on the ESPN network.

The prestigious 23-team Palm Springs Classic, which takes place at the Big League Dreams parks which are modeled after major league baseball stadiums, also features No. 1 Arizona, No. 4 Texas, No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 18 Baylor, No. 22 Oregon and No. 23 Fresno State. Off to their best start in school history, LSU (14-0) has yet to drop a game, including a pair of shutout wins over then No. 11 Washington last weekend.

"We are going to face big league competition tomorrow at the Big League Dreams ballpark," said LSU head coach Yvette Girouard. "We are very excited to participate in what we feel is the premier tournament in the country right now. This is a wonderful atmosphere and arena to play softball. We welcome the opportunity with the challenges ahead."

The Tigers as a team boast a .408 batting average this season, including an astounding SEC-leading 40 doubles. LSU is led by junior Leslie Klein at the plate with a .590 average, including four doubles, two triples, a home run and 16 RBIs. Five of the Tigers' nine starters are hitting over .400 this season, while only one his hitting below a .300 clip.

In the circle, LSU has been equally as impressive. In 14 games, the Tigers have allowed only two runs for a 0.17 earned run average. In addition to the 12 complete-game shutouts, LSU is allowing opponents to hit just .132 against them. Junior Emily Turner leads the Tigers with a 4-0 record and 0.00 ERA, while freshman Dani Hofer is also 4-0 with a 0.54 ERA and a team-best 39 strikeouts.

The second-ranked Bruins enter the tournament with an 8-1 record, with their only loss to Long Beach State. UCLA is led by Emily Zaplatosch at the plate with a .438 batting average, while Anjelica Selden is 4-1 with a 0.00 ERA in the circle. The national runner-up in 2005, LSU is 1-4 all-time against the Bruins, with its only win coming in the Campbell/Cartier Classic in 1998.

Oregon State, who is the official host of the Palm Springs Classic, is 7-2 on the season. The Beavers have won seven straight after dropping their first two games of the year. OSU is led by Adrienne Alo with a .433 average and Brianne McGowan with a 4-1 record and 2.14 ERA. In their only previous meeting, the Tigers fell to Oregon State in NCAA Regional play in Baton Rouge in 1999.

The Red Raiders (3-8) have lost eight of their last nine games after winning their first two of the year. Jennifer Corkin leads Texas Tech with a .333 average, while Erin Crawford is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in the circle. LSU is 3-0 all-time against the Red Raiders, but the pair have not met since 2002.

This is the first meeting between the Tigers and UC-Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are 5-2 with their only losses to UCLA and No. 6 California. Kendra Singley is hitting at a team-best .500 clip for UCSB, while Jennifer Davis is 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA in the circle.

The sixth-ranked Cardinal are 10-1 on the season and after their one loss to Texas, they have won six straight. Stanford holds a 2-1 all-time series advantage against the Tigers, but they have not met since 2001. Missy Pena leads Stanford with a 2-1 record and 2.50 ERA in the circle, while Laura Severson is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Cataline Morris leads the Cardinal with a .471 average on the season.

This is the first appearance by the Tigers in the Palm Springs Classic. In the 10-year history of the LSU softball program, this is only the second time the Tigers will play in the state of California. LSU went 4-1 in the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego in 1998.

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