After picking up two wins over Alabama last weekend in the SEC opener, the No.4 Tigers play the No.11 Texas A&M Aggies in the first conference road series of the season.
Game One: Friday - 4:30 PM, SECN+, 107.3 FM
Game Two: Saturday - 3 PM, SECN+, 107.3 FM
Game Three: Sunday - 12:30 PM. SECN+, 107.3 FM
It was clear entering the season Texas A&M was going to be good, but how good was unknown. They entered the season ranked 24th in the ESPN poll but unranked in the coaches poll, with a tough SEC slate ahead of them.
Although this weekend is the first SEC series of the year for the Aggies, at 24-2 including four wins over ranked teams in nonconference play, it’s quite clear this is one of the better teams in the nation. This series should be a good test to figure out where the Aggies rank in the conference and if they are serious national title contenders.
Players to Know
Kristyn Cuyos ( 10 HR, 35 RBI, .358 AVG)
Cali Lanphear (.697 SLG, 6 HR, 7 SB)
Tori Valdes (.419 AVG, .736 SLG, 27 R)
Samantha Show (.484 OBP, 6 HR, .340 AVG)
The weapon of choice for the Aggie offense is power, leading the SEC in home runs with 43. Their power is evident throughout the lineup with seven Aggies having three or more home runs on the season. Additionally, the Aggies rank fourth in the conference in both walks (130) and steals (55). Vidales and Cuyos (who leads the SEC in home runs) were the two big bats from last year and it looks like they are the building on their 2015 performance.
Although they have power the Aggies can be a bit feast or famine. Their .352 team batting average puts them right in the middle of the SEC and are one of six teams in the conference with 100 plus strikeouts at 101.
Katie Marks (39 innings, 1.62 ERA, 22 K)
Samantha Show (2.70 ERA, 91 K, 55 BB)
Show handles a bulk of the Aggies pitching duties with 98.2 innings, more than double the next closest pitcher, Marks at 39. Aside from Show, Marks and Trinity Harrington both look solid but nothing on the stat sheet jumps out.
As a whole the Aggie staff ranks near the bottom of the SEC in ERA, strikeouts and walks allowed. Of late the unit has been struggling a bit, surrendering five or more runs in four of the last eight games including ten to Texas Tech. A Texas Tech squad which scored just five runs against the Tigers over two games.
Stat of the weekend
Bianka Bell has hit four home runs in her last five games.
What to Watch For
The Fire Rises
Pick the adjective you’d like to use to describe the LSU offense. The eye is drawn to the 30 run performance on Tuesday, but the two performances on Friday and Sunday against a really good pitcher in Alexis Osorio might be even more impressive. Bell, Sahvanna Jaquish and Kellsi Kloss are excelling and figuring out which one is performing the best over this stretch is a tremendous luxury.
Saturday’s game against Alabama showed what could happen if the Tigers gift their opposition with additional outs. The Aggies are another quality SEC offense capable of capitalizing on potential LSU miscues. The six errors on Saturday were high even for an LSU team that leads the SEC in errors. However, emphasis must be placed on minimizing mistakes in conference play against the better teams.
This is the first time all season the Tigers will be playing a road series. The last time the Tigers played consecutive games away from Tiger Park was the second week of the season at the Mary Nutter classic, a series which saw the Tigers win four of five against some stiff competition, but was considered a neutral site. Ideally, success away from Tiger Park will translate to success at away and neutral site post season games.
This looks like a series LSU can sweep, mainly due to the A&M pitching. The Tiger offense is strong and if they can hit Osorio, Show should not be too much of a problem. For LSU, pitching depth is going to be important. Allie Walljasper was better but not great against LA Tech and her status for this series is unclear. Sydney Smith might have hit a bit of a freshman wall while Baylee Corbello has struggled of late. It is presumed that Carly Hoover will be exceptional, though other pitchers will have to perform well to earn the sweep.
What is unknown is if the Tigers offense can survive an offensive heavy game. Only twice this season have the Tigers won a game by two runs or fewer when both teams scored at least five runs. With that said, all the season totals suggest LSU can keep pace with the Aggie offense.