This isn't their first meeting of 2012, however. Back on Feb. 19, in Henderson, Nev., Cal earned a 14-3, five-inning win against LSU in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. Home runs from Jace Williams, Breanna Kostreba, Jolene Henderson and Frani Echavarria guided the Bears to the victory. A six-run first inning gave Cal the early lead and the Bears responded to LSU's three-run bottom of the third with two runs of its own in the top of the fourth before ending the game with five more runs in the fifth to make it 14-3. Henderson pitched all five innings with four strikeouts and three runs allowed on six hits in the 101-pitch outing. Senior outfielder Ashley Applegate collected two of LSU's three hits in the contest, while fellow senior Brittany Mack, who surrendered six runs on six hits, was pulled after just two-thirds of an inning.
LSU, in its first season under the direction of head coach Beth Torina, comes to Oklahoma City with a 39-23 overall record. The Tigers have knocked off two national seeds in the NCAA Tournament so far in No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Missouri to advance to the school's first Women's College World Series since 2004. LSU began its march to Oklahoma City in the College Station Regional, defeating Texas State, 1-0, in the opening game and knocking off host Texas A&M, 2-0, and 2-1 to capture the regional title. Next up was a trip to Columbia, Mo. and a matchup with Missouri in the Super Regionals. The Tigers opened the series with a 6-1 win last Saturday. Their first bid at the Super Regional championship and trip to Oklahoma City came up short when Missouri plated four runs in the 12th inning to pull out a 5-1 win over LSU and force a third and deciding game. LSU bounced back from the heart-breaking defeat several hours later and used a Simone Heyward (Sacramento native) three-run double (her first extra-base hit of the season) in the third inning to defeat Missouri and win the Columbia Super Regional, 3-1.
The last time LSU appeared in the WCWS was during the 2004 season when former All-American Kristin Schmidt notched the WCWS Most Outstanding Player award.
Like Cal's Jolene Henderson, LSU's Rachele Fico has been outstanding in the circle in the tournament so far. Fico has recorded four-straight wins. She retired 12 of the final 14 batters she faced in Sunday's rubber game against Missouri. Fico is complemented by Mack, who posted a career-best 17 strikeouts in her last outing in the 12-inning loss against Missouri last Sunday.
LSU is not a power hitting squad with just 13 home runs as a team this season - 10 less than Valerie Arioto has recorded by herself in 2012.
Senior left fielder Ashley Langoni has six of those home runs and 18 total extra-base hits to go along with a team-leading .265 batting average this season. Freshman right fielder and leadoff hitter A.J. Andrews is LSU's biggest threat on the base paths with 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts this season.
The strength of the Tigers is their pitching staff with Fico leading the way. She owns a 20-11 record with a 0.92 earned run average in 35 appearances, including 31 starts this spring. Fico has posted 213 strikeouts and surrendered just eight home runs in 220.1 innings in 2012. Opponents are hitting just .177 against the junior righty.
Despite the 14-3 win for Cal in the two teams' first meeting this season, the latest NCAA stats suggest tomorrow's matchup will be anything but a high-scoring contest. Cal and LSU are each ranked in the top-10 in the nation in earned run average with the Bears third with a 1.21 ERA and the Tigers ninth with a 1.51 ERA. Tomorrow's probably starters have a COMBINED 0.98 earned run average in the tournament so far. Henderson owns a 0.48 ERA (three runs in 43.2 innings) for Cal and Fico has posted a 0.50 ERA (two runs in 28 innings) for LSU in NCAA Tournament action.
Cal and LSU have met twice before in the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, splitting their two previous games. Both contests occurred in 2004 with LSU taking the first game, 4-1, and Cal taking the second meeting, 4-1, to eliminate the Tigers.
Tomorrow is a new day and we will see what happens at 12:30 (PT) on ESPN2.