After earning a series victory against Georgia last weekend, the No.8 Tigers look to win their second consecutive SEC series, this time against the No.16 Kentucky Wildcats.
Game One: Saturday - 2 PM ESPN, 107.3 FM.
Game Two: Sunday - 6 PM, SECN, 107.3 FM.
Game Three: Monday - 6 PM, SECN, 107.3 FM
Kentucky enters the series in a bit of a funk, having just been swept by No.2 Auburn and losers of four of its last five. Aside from that stretch, things have been pretty good for the Wildcats. They opened the season with a couple of wins over ranked foes in Oregon, Notre Dame and Arizona State.
Even with the losses of late, the Wildcats still rank third in the SEC standings, and are currently in a three way tie for fourth most overall wins by an SEC team on the season.
Players to Know
- Syler Samuel (.388 AVG, 40 H, 16 SB)
- Brooklin Hinz (.659 SLG, 5 HR, .429 OBP)
- Abbey Cheek (33 R, 39 RBI, .565 SLG)
- Christian Stokes (6 HR, .329 AVG, 23 R)
Kentucky’s offense has solid depth with four players having four or more home runs. Unfortunately, that’s the only noticeable positive from this lineup. The Wildcats don’t rank in the top-half of the conference in the big offensive categories. Their .303 team batting average is ranked 11th in the conference. They don’t do much stealing either, ranking 7th in steals.
- Kelsey Nunley (1.10 ERA, 134 K, .166 OPP BA)
- Megan Price (1.70 ERA, 14 W, 83 K)
What Kentucky lacks in offense it makes up for in pitching. The Kentucky staff is probably the second best in the SEC behind Florida. Kentucky is one of three teams in the conference which opponents are hitting below .200 against and one of two staffs with 300 plus strikeouts. If you get past Nunley and Price, Shannon Smith (1.86 ERA) is a quality third option.
The staff isn’t perfect. Kentucky’s pitchers only rank sixth in walks allowed and ninth in home runs allowed. A potentially favorable matchup for an LSU offense which ranks fourth in walks and fifth in home runs.
Stat of the Weekend
Sydney Smith is one of just three pitchers in the SEC with an ERA under one.
What to Watch for
Once again the Tigers face not just a tough pitcher, but a tough staff. It’s becomingly increasingly difficult to figure out how LSU will perform against top tier pitching. They succeeded against Alabama but struggled against Florida. Ideally, the offense from the Alabama series will be the one to show up this weekend.
The Sydney Smith Experiment
Last weekend Beth Torina used Sydney Smith as a starter in the rubber match. She only surrendered two runs but was pulled after just an inning and two thirds. With Allie Walljasper used in Wednesday’s game, Smith might get a little more of a look against a less potent Kentucky lineup.
Improving in the field
Key word here is improving. LSU hasn’t had a multi-error game since March 19th and hasn’t allowed an unearned run since March 26th. The Tigers are still near the bottom of the conference when it comes to errors, but even slight improvements should pay immediate dividends.
The Tigers got back to their winning ways last weekend, and it’s hard to see them not continuing on that path this weekend. Although Kentucky looks tough on paper, this is a series that the Tigers have a decent chance of sweeping. As good as the Kentucky pitching is, it isn’t perfect and LSU should be able to get runners on via walks. If the offense is patient and the pitching make quick work of the Kentucky bats, the Tigers should be able to add three wins over the weekend.