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LSU Softball Weekend Preview: Mississippi State

The Tigers are in Starkville for three games against the Bulldogs.

After being swept by Kentucky last weekend, the No.11 Tigers have just three SEC series remaining. If the Tigers want to make a push in the conference standings, it must begin this weekend against Mississippi State.

The Schedule

  • Game One: Friday - 5:30 PM, SECN+, 107.3 FM
  • Game Two: Saturday - 7 PM, SECN, 107.3 FM
  • Game Three: Sunday - 3:30 PM, SECN, 107.3 FM

The Opponent

Despite a winning record overall, the Bulldogs are not one of the SEC's elite. They are unranked in both polls and are in second to last place in the conference with a 2-10 SEC record. MSU has not won a series in conference play all season and has been swept twice.

The season began on a much different note, with an eight game win streak and a 17-3 record through 20 games. Things began to take a downswing when the Bulldogs lost three of four at the Louisville Invitational right before conference play. From that point, the tough SEC schedule has done a number on MSU.

Players to Know

  • Cori Cooper (1.46 ERA, 36 K, .147 OPP BA)
  • Regan Green (75 IP, 1.57 ERA, 84 K)
  • Holly Ward (9 W, 2.73 ERA, .223 OPP BA)
  • Alexis Silkwood (53.2 IP, .235 OPP BA, 28 K)

State's strength is in its pitching depth, with four pitchers having logged more than 10 appearances and 35 innings pitched on the season. Although there is not one dominant pitcher in the group, the staff is effective ranking third in the SEC in ERA. In fact the, Bulldogs rank in the middle of the SEC in most of the major statistical categories.

  • Caroline Seltz (3 HR, 20 RBI, .427 SLG)
  • Katie Anne Bailey (.328 AVG, 24 RBI, .461 SLG)
  • Kayla Winkfield (.317 AVG, 13 SB, .383 OBP)

The pitching staff is serviceable, the the offense is bad. The team ranks last in the conference in both batting average, home runs and are tied for last place in walks. Last, weekend they managed just two runs in three games against Alabama.

Stat of the Weekend

LSU is averaging 1.6 runs per game over its last ten SEC games played.

What to Watch for

Pressure on the pitching

With such a bad lineup, this weekend is going to be about the LSU pitching more than anything else. It is imperative the staff not struggle this weekend against a bad Bulldog lineup. It is especially the pitching staff performs well for an offense which is struggling.

Experiments?

It's not clear if Beth Torina will mess around with the lineup significantly this weekend. Recent games have seen Sandra Simmons moved to the leadup spot, but that's the only noticeable change. Against a less formidable foe, perhaps Torina will try and spark the offense with a new look lineup.

Execution?

While Torina can adjust the lineup, the lack of offense comes down to execution more than anything else. The big bats in particular - Bianka Bell, Sahvanna Jaquish and Kellsi Kloss - need to rediscover their early season swings, no matter where they are put in the lineup.

Estimated Outcome

With some weaker teams on the schedule, this is the time of year LSU must secure series victories. Considering the recent struggles, sweeps would be better. Last weekend's estimated outcome was not close to being accurate, likely from underestimating the Kentucky staff. This weekend LSU has the clear cut edge in both offense and pitching. Short of both units totally collapsing, the Tigers should earn wins in two of the three games.