Tiger Softball ranked in Preseason Top 10

After advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals and coming one win away from a return trip to the Women's College World Series a year ago, the LSU softball team enters the 2007 season ranked No. 9 in the NFCA/USA Today preseason poll released on Wednesday.

The Tigers return a pair of All-Americans in senior pitcher Emily Turner and senior outfielder Leslie Klein. Turner anchors an experienced pitching rotation that features three returnees from a group that ranked eighth in wins and 13th in earned run average in the nation, while adding a high school All-American. Killian Roessner returns behind the plate, while Kristen Hobbs is continuing to improve after missing most of last season due to Tommy John surgery.

Despite having to replace a pair of departed senior starters in the infield, the Tigers have a wealth of experience and talent to choose from to make the transition much easier. Andrea Smith will remain at shortstop for the third straight season, while Vanessa Soto will make the move from second base to first base.

A pair of transfers will round out the infield as Shannon Stein, who played last season for the Tigers after spending her first year at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, will hold down second base and Oklahoma transfer Tayl'r Hollis will be at third.

The 2007 LSU outfield returns two of its three starters, including Klein in centerfield and two-year starter Quinlan Duhon in right. The Tigers will also add freshman speedster Jazz Jackson to left field.

The NFCA/USA Today poll is voted on by 30 NCAA Division I coaches representing different conferences. Defending national champion Arizona tops the poll, edging out Tennessee. The Lady Vols advanced to the semi-finals of the Women's College World Series last season.

UCLA, under first year head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez, comes in third, followed by Northwestern and Arizona. Rounding out the Top 10 are Oregon State, Alabama, Stanford, LSU and California.

The Pac-10 leads the way with seven teams ranked in the top 25, followed by the SEC and Big 12 with five ranked teams. Among the five SEC teams in the top 25, three are in the top 10, including Tennessee, LSU and Alabama. Georgia comes in at No. 14 and Auburn is ranked 24th. Florida is fourth among the 15 teams receiving votes.

LSU will play 13 of its regular-season games against five teams that are ranked in the Top 25, including six games against two Top 10 opponents. Ranked opponents on the Tigers' 2007 schedule include No. 2 Tennessee, No. 7 Alabama, No. 12 Washington, No. 14 Georgia and No. 24 Auburn.

LSU will open the season on Friday, Feb. 9 against Memphis at Tiger Park in the Tiger Classic at 3:30 p.m. The Tigers will then take on Centenary, Middle Tennessee and Missouri before beginning bracket play in the three-day tournament.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories