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Being Bianka: LSU’s Bianka Bell steps up to the plate to lead in her senior season

Senior shortstop Bianka Bell might not have the loudest voice in the LSU softball dugout, but that doesn’t stop her from being one of her team’s most veteran leaders.

Senior catcher Kellsi Kloss said Bell doesn’t have to speak all the time to get people’s attention.

“She doesn’t always need to lead with her voice,” Kloss said. “Her presence is so strong on the field, and obviously her offense is amazing. Her defense has gotten better and better every single year. That’s kind of how Bianka works.”

LSU coach Beth Torina said she knew how talented Bell was from the moment she arrived at LSU, and Torina said Bell has been able to lead based on her natural talent.

“She’s just a great player,” Torina said. “She works hard. She plays with so much energy and just has fun playing.”

The talent Torina saw in Bell was on display from the get-go at LSU.

Bell started 56 games as a freshman, and she posted some of the best offensive numbers on the team that year. She hit .347 and led the team in home runs (12), RBI (50), total bases (103) and slugging percentage (.595).

She erased any doubts of a sophomore slump by posting a .337 batting average, smashing 14 home runs, driving in 51 runs and racking up 115 total bases during the 2014 season.

Last season, her junior year, was her best yet offensively. Bell hit .415 and set the single-season home run record (18), setting a new career mark in the process. She drove in 73 runs and accumulated 162 total bases.

Bell didn’t just get it done at the plate, though. She posted her best defensive season to date with a career high .940 fielding percentage.

Her 2015 accomplishments earned her First Team All-SEC honors, the title of Louisiana Hitter of the Year and a place on the NFCA All-America First Team.

Bell started the 2016 season quietly through the first four games at the Tiger Classic, but she exploded with three hits, including her first home run of the season, and 4 RBI on Sunday.

Bell is undoubtedly looking to put up lofty numbers again this spring, but she’s also helping fill the void in leadership left by last year’s senior class of A.J. Andrews, Kailey McCasland and Dylan Supak.

“A.J. was very much a vocal leader,” Bell said. “She pretty much led our team in any type of thing. Kailey and Dylan were kind of the silent leaders. They weren’t telling us what to do. Here and there, they would just lead by example. I feel like I took that role, them leading by example, finding a way to just have my team jump on the train.”

Torina said Bell also does a good job of leading with a lot of energy and keeping the team relaxed and loose.

Bell is known for being a bit of a jokester. Bell and several of her teammates have “alter-egos,” one of the newest being “country redneck dudes,” that keep the team entertained and at ease.

Kloss said that just because Bell isn’t always busy barking instructions or being the biggest cheerleader doesn’t mean she’s afraid to speak up, though.

“She’ll talk when she needs to,” Kloss said. “She’s a really good captain on the field, and she’ll direct people where to go.”

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