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Softball Weekend Preview: Tiger Classic

The quest for a return to the Women's College World Series starts Friday in Baton Rouge

Jake Johnson / LSUSports.net

The quest for a championship for the LSU softball team begins this weekend with the Tiger Classic. Five games in three days. All games will be on SECN+

Schedule

Friday 5PM - Ohio State

Players to know: Erika Leonard (.414 AVG, 15 HR, 60 RBI), Maddy McIntyre (.540 OBP, 14 HR, 50 RBI)

On paper, Ohio State looks like the toughest matchup. They led the Big Ten in hitting in 2015 and have a couple of good bats returning this season. However, LSU should feast on the pitching staff which had a collective ERA of 5.32 and led the Big Ten in walks allowed at 274

Friday 7:30 PM - North Florida

Players to know: Stacy McClelland (.706 SLG, 13 HR, 47 RBI)

This group was solid a year ago but had a ton of departures from last season. The top two starters are no longer on the team and the top returning pitcher logged just 27 innings last season.

Saturday 5PM – UConn

Players to know: Taylor Townsend (.289 AVG, 21 BB), Alyson Ambler (5 HR, 20 RBI, 20 BB)

UConn was voted to finish dead last in the AAC this year and the roster does a pretty good job of explaining why. Last season the Huskies were outscored 277-164. Most of the roster is returning this year so those numbers could improve. The pitching isn’t much better with a staff ERA of 4.75.

Saturday 7:30 PM – Pacific (19-36)
Sunday 11:30 AM – Pacific

Players to know: Nicole Zapotoczny (10 HR, 34 RBI, .588 SLG), Sara Anderson (.310 AVG, .382 OBP, 10 SB)

The series for LSU wraps up with another team that struggled in 2015. Like UConn, Pacific is returning a couple of bats in what was a pretty bad lineup from a year ago. The pitching does not appear to be much better with a team ERA at 4.47.

Stat for the weekend

LSU is 17-2 at home openers in Tiger Park

What to Watch For

Offensive Experiments

Against some winnable opponents expect lots of people to get playing time. The two positions to look out for are centerfield and second base. Beth Torina said to expect five different lineups this weekend. For the batting order, expect the Bianka Bell, Savannah Jaquish, Kellsi Kloss to bat three through five. Expect at least one new hitter out of the one or two spot. Expect to see some of the freshman get at bats this weekend.

Circle Dominance

Carly Hoover and Allie Walljasper will be just as critical to a championship run as the offense. Outside of Ohio State, none of the other lineups look particularly challenging. Both pitchers should be able to cruise in the opening weekend.

Estimated Outcome

It would be shocking if the Tigers drop more than one game. The Tigers, on paper, are clearly better that the field this weekend. It wouldn’t be surprising to see one or more of these games end via run-rule, if the pitching and hitting work in tandem.