Tiger Rag High 5: LSU best all-time softball player

Britni Sneed, chosen by the Tiger Rag High 5 selection committee as LSU's best all-time softball player, was a two-time first-team All-American, the SEC Player of the Year in 2001, the league’s Pitcher of the Year in 2002 and twice MVP of the SEC tournament. PHOTO courtesy of LSU Sports Information

Welcome to the 10th category of our Tiger Rag High Five, the best-ever softball player.

A 15-member media panel with a collective 582 years of sports journalism experience picked LSU’s five best athletes, coaches, moments, and individual game and season performances in 21 categories covering all present and past sports.

Voters on the panel were provided information of six to 10 nominees and were asked to rank one through five. The panel voters could also write-in their own candidates.

Scoring was tallied as 5 points for a first-place vote, 4 for second-place, 3 for third-place, 2 for second place and 1 for last-place. Ties were not broken.

LSU softball has won no national championships but has won five SEC regular season championships and five SEC tournaments.

The winner of the best-ever LSU softball player is. . .

Britni Sneed 61 (8 first-place votes)

2. Kristin Schmidt 41 (3)

Flame-throwing durable pitcher named 2004 College World Series Most Outstanding Player

3. Ashlee Ducote 40 (3)

First LSU softballer to be named SEC Player of the Year

4. Bianka Bell 32 (1)

First on LSU career list in home runs and runs scored

5. Bailey Landry 23

Finished career in 2017 as school’s all-time hits leader with 293

Here’s Sneed’s story:

Glenn Moore must be one heck of a recruiter.

Twenty-one years ago when he became the third LSU softball head coach in history, he persuaded a hot shot Texas pitcher from Houston named Britni Sneed to sign with the Tigers.

“I really wanted to go to a program where I could be a part of something that would create a solid foundation,” Sneed said.

Sixteen years ago as Baylor’s head coach, he swayed Tigers’ student-assistant coach Sneed to become the Bears’ pitching coach.

“We’ve been together so long that we have similar philosophies and it’s rare we have a philosophical disagreement,” Moore said. “I’ve given her the keys and let her go.”

Moore and former LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard, who coached Sneed in her last two years of her four fabulous Tigers’ seasons from 1999 to 2002, had sense enough to coach Sneed similarly.

Hand her the ball. Stay out of her way.

Sneed, a two-time first-team All-American, was the SEC Player of the Year in 2001, the league’s Pitcher of the Year in 2002 and twice MVP of the SEC tournament.

Now at almost age 40, married to Josh Newman and the mother of two sons, she still holds 12 LSU career and six season records.

It’s why she was named the best softball player in LSU’s 27-season history by Tiger Rag Magazine’s esteemed 15-member committee by a 20-point margin.

“I loved being at LSU,” Sneed said. “I loved the people of Baton Rouge, I loved the city. I love to visit when I can. It’s crazy how many years have gone by.”

Growing up in Houston and starring at Cy-Fair High, Sneed had one goal in mind. Her childhood dream was to play for Texas A&M, but there were no vacancies on the Aggies’ pitching staff.

“It worked out for the best, going to LSU was amazing,” Sneed said. “When I came on my visit, I noticed LSU’s rich tradition of winning. That was extremely enticing to me. And the fan support was the best. I wanted to play in front of fans like that.”

Moore was ecstatic to sign Sneed because the program was just in its third season in a re-start after staying dormant for 15 years.

“Our biggest challenge was we were a pretty new program,” Moore said, “so we had to get Britni to believe in our philosophy and that we were going to be successful. Just the word of mouth she was coming to LSU helped us put a good team around her.”

During Sneed’s career, she accounted for 51.7 percent (she was 120-25, .827) of LSU’s wins (232-45, .837). The Tigers won four straight SEC championships, three SEC tournament titles and went 2-2 in the 2001 College World Series where Sneed kept LSU’s hopes alive by striking out a then-SEC record 19 batters in 2-1 13-inning win over Oklahoma.

That performance was vintage Sneed.

“She was one of the most easy-going, mild-mannered people I’ve ever met,” Moore said. “But when she got in the circle, horns came out and she was extremely competitive.”

Girouard agreed.

“She was a dominating SEC pitcher and an imposing figure on the mound,” said Girouard in 2009 when Sneed became the first softball player elected to the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Sneed described her game-time personality change as a “passionate pursuit of hating to lose.”

“When I put on my uniform and laced my cleats, it was `go’ time,” Sneed said.

Every season at LSU, it seemed like Sneed upped her ante.

It wasn’t enough to record 23 wins including six shutouts with 18 complete games and six shutouts as a freshman.

Or just come back as a sophomore and post 27 wins with 22 complete games and eight shutouts. Or return as a junior to notch 36 wins (including 21-0 in the SEC) with a school-record 0.66 ERA and consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 51 and 41.2 innings.

Finally, she topped it off as a senior with a school-record 22 shutouts in 34 victories, including six complete game no-hitters.

“Our softball coaches and our strength coaches all played a huge part in me succeeding each year,” Sneed said. “And the teammates I had were extremely competitive, pushed me and encouraged me.

“I also had the mindset that each year I wanted to bring something new to the table. And that time, technology was starting to come around where you watched more film and really studied more players.

“I knew people were studying me and the pitches I was throwing. I wanted something fresh every season I could add to my arsenal.”

As a coach, Sneed has brought that same attention to detail.

“When it comes to handling pitching and calling pitches, I’ve learned to leave her alone,” Moore said. “It’s like she’s conducting an orchestra out there. She does her homework on the teams we’re facing.”

Sneed discovered an entirely new satisfaction when she became a coach.

“I love the chess match, having all the information in front of me, knowing the heart of my pitcher, knowing what her strengths are, putting that into a formula and attacking the hitter,” Sneed said.

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