LSU has never won a national Championship in softball. However this year's team, if they play to their potential, appears to have a legitimate shot. Head coach Beth Torina hopes to maximize the opportunity.
Despite some recent struggles, it has been a history making season for LSU softball.
Those that know Torina say she's the perfect match for the beaming talent on the LSU roster.
"I think she's real. I've never run into anybody that really doesn't like her," said former LSU softball head coach Yvette Girouard. "She knows who she is."
"I just think I'm honest," Torina said "I just think I tell the truth. I'm really straight forward. I don't like to sugar coat things. I think my players would say that about me."
"She loves the game," said Girouard. "She is so passionate about the game of fast pitch softball."
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva described Torina as fiercely competitive and intelligent.
"You know in the long run, things work out for the best," commented Alleva.
In case you forgot, Torina wasn't exactly the first choice to replace retiring Hall of Famer Yvette Girouard four years ago.
"And hopefully, I will finish my career in Louisiana, here at LSU," said Alabama softball head coach Pat Murphy back in June 2011 at a press conference announcing him as LSU's new head softball coach.
"I remember hiring a guy from Alabama," said Alleva.
"I remember the exact spot I was standing when I saw that Patrick Murphy took the LSU job because it was so shocking," said Torina
"I still to this day kinda don't understand what happened," said Girouard. "After the press conference it looked like he was gonna have a heart attack."
"He came in on Friday and accepted the job," explained Alleva. "On Sunday, he called me and wanted to meet. He said he didn't want to accept the job. So I wasn't real pleased, but I said fine, bye."
"I didn't think it through, and I made a mistake," said Murphy in an interview after turning down the job.
About 10 days later, the head coach at little known Florida International got her big break.
Girouard said that her phone kept ringing with people wanting to know who Torina was and what LSU was doing.
"Even some of the players in their interview said 'Well, I've never heard of her, but I hope she's gonna be great,'" commented Torina.
"We kind of went over it," said Girouard. "You weren't the first choice. And she said 'What should I say?' I said, 'You tell them they got the right coach."
"I truly feel that LSU hired the right coach for the job," said Torina at the press conference announcing her as LSU's head softball coach.
"It was a good line," said Alleva.
Murphy would immediately win his first national championship, while Torina's first LSU team was perhaps the surprise of the year in Louisiana sports, reaching the College World Series themselves.
"He's in the right sport for him and I'm in the right spot for me," said Torina.
As Torina has grown into the job, her family has quickly grown as well.
In the summer of 2013, Torina and her husband Nick, a former baseball player at the University of Houston, adopted their first child Tayrn. A couple of weeks later, Torina learned she was pregnant with Tatum. Both girls now over a year old.
"This is a very difficult profession for a woman," said Girouard. "For a woman with children, I'm not quite sure how they do it. She's got the right husband, and she's got the right support system."
Nick told me the other day he's actually your wife.
"I am. I'm a really good wife," said Nick Torina. "I'm trying to get on the SEC's coaches' wives show. I'm auditioning."
"He is really selfless and does anything we need," said Torina. "He makes a ton of sacrifices for those two little girls."
However, Torina has been in no mood to baby her team in recent weeks.
"I think they appreciate that," said Torina. "Getting to the College World Series is one of the toughest things in sports. Given everything we have here at LSU, we have a chance to be one of the best programs in the country year in and year out, and that's the goal."
Regardless of what happens this year, Torina is building a powerful program, not just a powerful team. Outside of AJ Andrews, basically everyone on the squad will return next year.
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