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LSU Softball Assistant Coach Bryce Neal : The Path to LSU, His Role In The Program and More

Beth Torina added one of the up and coming coaches in the softball world with the addition of Assistant Coach Bryce Neal. I had the pleasure of getting to discuss with Bryce how he ended up at LSU, his role with the team and more.

Neal spent the 2022 and 2023 seasons at Louisville in the same role. In those two seasons with Neal on staff the Cardinals produced two NFCA All-Americans, five NFCA Southeast All-Region selections and nine All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honorees. Last season Louisville finished with a 36-20 record, including a 16-7 mark in the ACC which tied for the most league wins in program history since joining the conference in 2015. The Cardinals hit a program record 64 home runs last season, ranked No. 13 in the NCAA in home runs per game, and led the ACC with a .319 batting average.

"Bryce brings a high level of energy and passion for hitting and offensive strategy as well as the mental side of the game. He has worked under some great coaches and has an innovative and aggressive style that we are really looking forward to implementing." -Coach Aprile of Louisville

Prior to his stint with the Cardinals, Neal had spent time at Bucknell as an assistant coach in 2021 and and as a volunteer coach at Arizona State in 2020. Wherever Neal goes, the offensive production follows. In his time at Arizona State the offense ranked in the top five nationally in home runs, walks and scoring. In his last 5 games with ASU they outscored opponents 39-0. He has also worked as a private instructor for five years and worked at the LSU Softball Camp in 2019.

Neal when asked why he chose to come to LSU "Coach Beth and Howard have been mentors as I’ve navigated the initial years of my coaching career, getting to work alongside them everyday is surreal and a full circle moment for me and my family." He added " Beth, Howard, and Sandy are the primary reason I had an avenue to get into coaching college softball, they were my only reference when I got the ASU job. The opportunity to give back to them in any capacity and work to help them continue to elevate the program felt right. In addition to that, the fan base, the passion and the resources made it an easy decision."

I asked Bryce if he was going to have a specific role with the Tigers and he replied with "I think one thing that coach has tried to do is to embrace the uniqueness of our staff and our skill sets. There is such a wide variety of experience in the room and we all see the game through a different lens – It’s been special. Anytime there is alignment and unity throughout the organization you have the ability to achieve special things. Our entire room is extremely devoted to creating structures and environments that allow our players to move towards their best, as a human and a player."

On his playing career he said "Unfortunately, my playing career was plagued with injuries and never could quite find my footing, the silver lining was I was fortunate to be coached and mentored by great men all whom have helped me mold and shape my coaching philosophy." Regarding how he got into coaching softball he added "My sister had a very successful club and college career (University of Tulsa) and I spent summers traveling with her, I was always fascinated with the pace and tactical strategy that baseball lacked. I met my wife in 2016 who also played at Tulsa and went on to play professionally in the NPF, both were instrumental in pushing me towards following my passion of coaching."

I asked Bryce what his career aspirations are and he quickly stated "I am hyper focused on helping Coach Beth, our staff, and our players continue to push LSU forward. The opportunity to work at an institution like LSU and work alongside the best players in the country bares significant responsibility, responsibility that can only be met if you’re 100% dedicated to being where your feet are." One of my big questions for him relates to a point that i made earlier, that wherever he goes, offense follows. When asked how does he help bring that to LSU he said "Each place I’ve been has been totally unique, at ASU our roster was more geared towards slugging, at Bucknell it was how do we design a lineup to make sure our best players get 3 opportunities to impact the game on one swing, and at Louisville it was a little of both. The one thing I’m extremely thankful for is at each stop I’ve been surrounded by great coaches that have helped me develop my offensive philosophy."

One of my favorite things he had to say was when he got into his offensive philosophy stating "The thing we keep coming back to and we talk a lot about here is not being married to one style of scoring. We need to have the ability to score in a wide variety of ways, backside hitting, slugging, or walking 5 times, each night will pose its own set of problems. Inevitably you are working towards building an offense that is extremely adaptable, is built on systematic principles, hard to game plan and pitch to, can control the strike zone, and plays with an edge. Howard and Sandra had a lot of the pieces in place, so now it’s just working with them to continue to enhance it."

When on the topic of his time spent as instructor he said " I wouldn’t say my time as an instructor has had any influence on how I view my role now. My primary

focus on is SCORING RUNS. This sounds extremely simplistic and, on the surface, it might be, but once you peel back layers its no different than any other sport, how do we leverage each player’s offensive skill set to help contribute to maximizing run production, this is also known as value creation. Howard and Sandra have done an incredible job designing some of the best offenses in the country in years past. I think we have a really cool opportunity with myself and Zach Jermain being added to staff (Player Development / Analyst) to continue to be more systematic in how we view player development, designing game planning models, and practice design."

Lastly we discussed how he has adjusted to life in Louisiana and he jokingly said "The biggest challenge has been not trying to go up 3-4 sizes in my dress pants". He followed that up with "All jokes aside, the university, the administration, really everyone involved has been super welcoming to me and my family.We are really looking forward to game day in Baton Rouge."



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