Girouard named SEC Coach of the Year

ATHENS, Ga. -- Head coach Yvette Girouard was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Head Coach of the Year, while a trio of Tigers earned All-SEC honors as the sixth-seeded LSU softball team opens SEC Tournament play on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. (CT) against sixth-seeded Auburn at the UGA Soccer/Softball Complex.

Pitcher Emily Turner and center fielder Leslie Klein garnered All-SEC first team honors for LSU. Klein also earned first-team honors as a freshman in 2004, while Turner was named to the second team a year ago. In addition, pitcher Dani Hofer was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.


All of the tournament games will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network in Baton Rouge on The X - 104.5/104.9 FM. The broadcasts can also be heard in the GeauxZone powered by USAgencies on The SEC Tournament championship game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest in Baton Rouge on cable channel 38.


In a change for the nine prior SEC Tournaments, the 2006 tournament will be a single elimination format. The top eight teams advance to the tournament and play on Thursday. The semi-finals are on Friday, with the championship game on Saturday at noon (CT). If LSU advances past Auburn, the Tigers will face the winner of the Georgia/Arkansas game on Friday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).


"This year is a very different format in that it's one and done if you don't take care of business," said Girouard. "We understand that our goal is to play well and to take it pitch by pitch. I think that all of the coaches involved are excited to know that it's one game a day no matter what happens. To have fresh leg, fresh arms and fresh bodies is very important at this time of year."


For the third time in six seasons, Girouard earned Coach of the Year honors in the SEC, sharing the award with Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy this season. It marked her seventh conference Coach of the Year award in three conferences.


"The coach award is definitely a staff and team award, and that is not just coach speak," said Girouard. "Much of the credit has to go to James (DeFeo) and Lori (Osterberg) for handling the team when I had basically back-to-back surgeries in two months and probably missed about three weeks of practice. They ran the team with skilled hands, especially in the case of the pitchers, which is the area that I primarily handle. They really stepped up and took the workouts and were very mature about trying to get better everyday. This is truly a team award and not an Yvette Girouard award."


This year, she helped guide the Tigers to an 18-win turnaround and a third place finish in the league after finishing eighth a year ago. In addition, she recorded her 300th win at LSU in just her sixth season with the Tigers.


"Kudos to the team because they buried last year and never looked back," said Girouard. "They achieved many of their goals for this year. We never take for granted that it's a given that you are one of the top eight teams in the SEC. It's a tough, competitive conference that you have to bring your "A" game to every year."


The USA Softball National Player of the Week on April 18, this is the third All-SEC honor for Turner, who was named to the second-team last season and was a member of the All-Freshman team in 2004. The junior from Chula Vista, Calif., ranks second in the NCAA in earned run average and in the top 10 in the conference in wins, ERA, saves, strikeouts, strikeouts looking, opponent's batting average, innings pitched, games started and earned runs allowed. She has thrown 15 complete-game shutouts, third most in LSU single-season history.


"I am extremely excited for both individuals," said Girouard. "There are to fascinating stories surrounding the young women chosen for the All-SEC teams in Emily Turner and Leslie Klein. Emily has overcome so many obstacles to reach this point. I am so proud of her for being such a strong woman to overcome the mental obstacles that have been in her path."


This is the third All-SEC honor for Klein, who also earned first-team honors as a freshman in 2004 while being named to the All-Freshman team. Returning to form after the second ACL surgery on her right knee, the junior from Sunrise, Fla., ranks in the top 10 in the league in batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, RBIs, doubles, triples, total bases and stolen bases this season. She recorded a team-best 12-game hitting streak during the year, which is tied for seventh longest in LSU history.


"Leslie is in the same mold as Emily when you talk about the physical barriers put in front of this woman in the last few years," said Girouard. "What she has accomplished this year is not a feat that many could have coming off of her second knee operation to have an All-American year for us again this year."


Hofer, the 2005 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, was named to the All-Freshman team after being named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Feb. 20 and the LSWA Louisiana Pitcher of the Week on March 13. She tied for the conference lead in wins by a freshman and is one of three pitchers on the All-Freshman team.


The Tigers (49-11, 22-8 SEC) enter the tournament as the third seed after finishing the season in second place in the SEC Western Division, three and a half games behind SEC Champion Alabama. Auburn comes into the tournament with a 34-19 overall mark and an even 15-15 record in conference play. AU finished third in the SEC West and sixth overall.


LSU leads the overall series with Auburn, 28-11, including a 4-2 record at neutral sites. In three meetings in Baton Rouge earlier this season, the purple and gold took 2-of-3 from Auburn, winning the first two, 4-0 and 6-5, before falling 1-0 in the final game of the series while leaving 13 runners on base. Girouard is 13-9 all-time against Auburn, with all 22 meetings coming while she has been at LSU.


The Tigers have dominated the SEC Tournament over the last seven seasons. LSU has come away with four tournament titles and two more appearances in the championship game. The Tigers last failed to reach the SEC Tournament title game in 2007, falling to Auburn in the quarterfinals. LSU has posted more conference tournament championships than any school in the league times.


Having qualified for all 10 SEC Tournaments, LSU is 28-10 all-time in the tournament, one of only four teams with a winning record in the tournament. The Tigers' winning percentage is almost .200 better than the next best team in the league (Alabama - .576). No other team has won the SEC Tournament championship more than three times and no other team has appeared in the championship game more than three times, while LSU has won it four times and made six appearances in the title game.


GAME FACTS: No. 11 LSU Tigers (36-5, 10-2 SEC) vs. No. 21 Auburn (25-10, 6-6 SEC)


DATE/TIME: Thursday, May 11 - 6:30 p.m. (CT); Friday, May 12 - 2:30 p.m. (CT); Saturday, May 13 - Noon (CT)


RANKINGS: LSU (#12 NFCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, #11 ESPN/USA Softball Poll)

                     Auburn (#21 NFCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, #24 ESPN/USA Softball Poll)


STADIUM: UGA Soccer/Softball Complex (1,000)


RADIO: The X - 104.5/104.9 FM


TELEVISION: Saturday - Fox Sports Net (Baton Rouge cable channel 38)


INTERNET: Audio broadcast and live stats in the GeauxZone powered by USAgencies at


SERIES RECORD: LSU leads 28-11.

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