OKLAHOMA CITY -- As the story goes, when LSU arrived in Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series, it had to make a quick stop at Wal-Mart. Everyone had a job on what they needed to go find and bring back.
For Junior Bianka Bell, that meant going to find the snacks for the team. However, when she returned, she not only didn't have any food, but she had acquired a fish which she named Juanita.
“I was not on this trip,” LSU coach Beth Torina said trying to hide her laughter. “I was at the administrative meeting, just for the record.”When the Tigers took on Auburn on Thursday in the first round of the WCWS, Juanita had made its way to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium and was soon adopted into what has become the liveliest show in the country— the LSU bench.
“Our motto is can't beat crazy,” Bell said. “It just keeps the game fun for us. Nobody likes to press and be tight the entire game. By using the mask and having the new fish that we just got just makes it light and it keeps it fun for us.”
LSU defeated Auburn 6-1 and will take on Florida at 7 p.m. ET Friday.
The Tigers won in such a convincing fashion, they really didn't need the sideshow they have created on their bench. But that didn't keep the players from bringing out their special rally caps.
“I think my favorites are the horse or Batman,” A.J. Andrews said. “Constance Quinn does Batman and Kelsee Selman does the horse mask. It's not just the mask. Everybody really just embodies what it is. If you're a horse, she is going to gallop around and act like a horse. Batman is going to act like she is flying through the air. Everybody just really embraces their character. It's kind of like an acting show in their. It's really fun.”
The @LSUsoftball dugout is rowdy #JuanitaTheFish pic.twitter.com/hKhz1Nagva— erin mchugh (@erinmchugh14) May 28, 2015
While only a few of the fans in the stadium can see what is taking place in the dugout, the television cameras make sure to take periodic looks just to see what they are doing next.
#LSUsoftball #GeauxTigers #ESPN #WCWS #LSU #INitTOwinIT #TheRealTigersLSU pic.twitter.com/i3Zn2mGGA6— Eye on the Tigers (@iam4lsu2) May 28, 2015
“I think it's cool to see our personalities come out during the game,” Kellsi Kloss said. “I think that stuff is good to keep us loose and just reminds us that it's a game. If we're not enjoying having fun, then we're not going to play as good. We have crazy stuff like masks and horse heads and we got a fish named Juanita for the trip. It's stuff to keep us loose.”
It's atmosphere that Torina endorses and encourages.
“I like personalities, “Torina said. “I think there's nothing like the dynamic of a team. It's so cool to be a part of a team. It's something that's indescribable if you've never been a part of it. It's something that I enjoy. I think all their individual personalities truly make us who we are. I encourage personalities.”
Andrews says the show they put on in the dugout has a purpose. It's not just to entertain.
“I think it just keeps us up,” Andrews said. “There is no moment in the game when we're down. We talk about how our motto is CBC [can't be crazy]. I think it throws others teams off. We're kind of that annoying team that never stops talking. It just adds to the frustration of other teams, especially if we're getting on top. Even if we're down, there's not a moment we're feeling down. I think our dugout does an amazing job of keeping us up.”
@LSUsoftball's new mascot, Juanita had a nice comfy home in the dugout today for the first game against Auburn! pic.twitter.com/bZD7LhDHkP— LSU Pix (@LSUpix) May 28, 2015
However, Torina admits she has had to pull the players back a couple of times.
“There's some standards that we uphold and every single girl on the team upholds those, but for the most part who they are as people is what makes us LSU,” Torina said. “So I love that side of them. Maybe they do get a little crazy at times and they have to rein them back in but I'd much rather that than the other way.”