SOFTBALL: In the circle at Tiger Park

A dominant pitcher in softball can produce the ultimate superstar within the sport.

When their game is on, pitchers can challege opposing defenses – for 14 straight innings, in some instances – with nasty changeups, curveballs and dropballs.


Fourteen straight innings can be brutal for a pitcher, but that is exactly what senior LSU pitcher Emily Turner produced on the final day of the 2006 season. With the season on the line and the team down 1-0 in a super regional series, Turner put together seven fearless innings when she managed to come away with a 4-3 victory over eventual national champion Arizona.


The win evened the series 1-1, placing the Tigers just seven innings away from a birth in the Women's College World Series. But the Wildcats proved too much for Turner and her All-American arm, and Arizona steamrolled LSU 14-5.


"We were one game away. Thirty minutes of rest and I would have been fine," Turner said. "That Arizona team is just too high powered to see 14 innings in a row. They caught on real quick."


But that was then and this is now, according to head coach Yvette Girouard. Her squad was one win away from reaching their season goal, and that she said is the best motivational tool of all.


The team's motto reads "Unfinished Business," and for the pitching staff, it defines their goals for the 2007 season.


Turner produced an incredible season in 2006, one that she said saw her grow into the pitcher she has always wanted to be. According to Turner, Girouard told her at the beginning of the season she was going to mold her into an All-American pitcher. As Turner continued to improve as the season progressed, Girouard said she could pinpoint the exact day she became an All-American.


"One day she finally mastered her changeup and everything else started to explode off that," Girouard said. "I had her sign that workout and told her this is the day you became an All-American."


A 5-foot-11, right-handed pitcher from Chula Vista, Calif., Turner reached a defining goal in her life well across the United States in south Louisiana.


"It was an enlightening experience," Turner said, tearing up. "She was the only one that had faith in me at that time. She made me feel great. She was my inspiration last year. I owe everything to her."


Turner is the Tigers' go-to gal for now, but Girouard hopes sophomore Dani Hofer is the go-to gal of the future. Hofer is another 5-foot-11-inch right-handed pitcher, but she hails from the East Coast in Safety Harbor, Fla.


Hofer is an amazing talent who features a wicked curveball and is loaded with potential. She began her freshman season hitting the strike zone and feeling confident, but she lost her groove once conference play began with a slump. Hofer produced spotty outings for the remainder of the season where she had to learn to deal with school, pitching and adversity.


"Dani (Hofer) is back and threw better in the fall," Girouard said. "She started off like a house of fire last year, then faced some adversity. It was probably the first time in her life that she faced that adversity pretty hard. Her confidence was shook."


The third pitcher will be junior Tiffany Garcia. A La Porte, Texas, native, Garcia features a dropball pitch that, when it is on target, is devastating for batters.


Girouard said Garcia worked hard over the offseason and has made tremendous improvements during the fall-ball season.


"I'm feeling really good. I feel more confident in my pitches, and I'm working more ahead in the count instead of behind in the count," Garcia said. "In the fall, I worked really hard on being more consistent and keying in on each pitch."

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