BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The No. 8 ranked LSU softball team begins its quest for a fourth straight berth to the College World Series Thursday night against Illinois-Chicago in Tiger Park.
The Flames won the Horizon League last year with a 20-4 conference record and finished 39-22 overall.
UIC advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 and earned a 5-4 victory over Missouri.
Following the season opener against the Flames, the Tigers will welcome UT Arlington, Southern Miss, UMass and Syracuse to Tiger Park for the Tiger Classic beginning Friday.
LSU returns 13 players from last season, including All-American pitchers Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper.
Hoover went 15-8 , with a 1.19 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 2017, while Walljasper finished with an 18-5 record, a 1.61 ERA and 101 strikeouts.
At the plate, Emily Griggs and Amber Serrett look to lead the Tiger hitting attack.
Griggs is back for her senior season after hitting .317 last year, scoring 43 runs and batting in 27 Tigers.
Serrett had 13 extra base hits including four home runs and batted .263 for the Tigers in 2017.
LSU finished the 2017 season with a 48-22 overall record, 12-12 in SEC play.
LSU went 1-2 in the Women's College Word Series, beating UCLA 2-1 before losing to Florida 7-0 and Oregon 4-1.
The 2018 softball team is picked to finish fourth in the SEC behind Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
LSU vs. Illinois-Chicago (Thursday at 6 p.m., SEC Network+)
LSU vs. UT Arlington (Friday at 5 p.m., SEC Network+)
LSU vs. Southern Miss (Friday at 7:30 p.m., SEC Network+)
LSU vs. UMass (Saturday at 5 p.m., SEC Network+)
LSU vs. Syracuse (Saturday at 7:30 p.m., SEC Network+)