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LSU Softball Weekend Preview: Purple & Gold Challenge

Georgia Southern and Central Arkansas come to Baton Rouge

MG Miller / LSUSports.net

LSU has won four straight entering this weekend, and

The Schedule

Friday 2/17 vs Georgia Southern 6 PM

Saturday 2/18 vs Georgia Southern 2:30 PM

Saturday 2/18 vs Central Arkansas 5 PM

Sunday 2/19 vs Central Arkansas 1 PM

No video or radio this weekend, but you can follow Live Stats here

We are joined by FloSoftball (@Flosoftball) General Manager Brentt Eads to breakdown the LSU freshman class.

This class was highly regarded and all signs point to this group seeing lots of playing time early, what should the expectations be for this class this first year and long term?

We at FloSoftball had the class at No. 2 in the nation with four players in the Top 40 so it’s large in terms of size and great quality. You’re already seeing freshmen like Sydney Springfield make an immediate impact right away as she’s leading the team in batting average at .615 through the first five games and Amanda Doyle is third at .500. So this class is already contributing because the talent level is so high. Long term, every player has a chance to contribute so the key here is excellent depth.

Doyle, Dawson and Andrews are the names that seem to get mentioned a bunch, aside from those three is there a more under the radar player to look out for?

I liked Michal Cunningham a lot when I saw her play in club ball. Michael played for one of the top programs in the country in the Beverly Bandits and she was excellent defensively with the ability to hit for average and power. She won a PGF National Championship and is versatile in that she can play several positions including catcher and middle infield. She has the experience and physical skills to make an impact in time.

Maribeth Gorsuch is the lone pitcher in this class, in a crowded LSU staff what is her ceiling, what does she bring to the circle, and do you see a scenario where she is making a noticeable contribution this year?

I don’t see Maribeth getting a lot of innings this year with Smith, Walljasper and Hoover all being standouts, but that will work well for the freshman as she’ll get to watch these elite pitchers and how they approach the game, especially mentally. The main difference between club/high school and college is that you have to battle every pitch and you can’t take any off as the opposition studies you and knows your tendencies. Maribeth is too good to not be an impact player in time as she has a variety of pitches including a residual, crude, and screwball and mixes her speeds well. Her ceiling is very high also because she can hit too.

Beth Torina has spoken about moving a couple of players around defensively, is there a player that played one particular position in high school but would be better suited playing somewhere else in college?

That’s hard to say at this time because of needs now and in the future. The great thing about this class is how most players can play at multiple positions. Nicky Dawson could play the infield or outfield, depending on need. I mentioned Michal Cunningham, she can be behind the plate or in the infield. Amanda Doyle is versatile in the infield too. I think what will happen is how they hit will determine eventually how much they play and that could determine where they are positioned in the field and groomed for a particular position. But overall, this class is athletic and versatile, two reasons it was No. 2 in the nation!

What to Watch For

Still (Kinda) Mixin

LSU’s lineup and defense seems to be assembled, for the most part. The top half of the lineup has remained relatively unchanged, but through six games Beth Torina has had six different player combinations for the 7-8-9 hitters. Defensively, Torina seems to have found a home for everybody, but some platoons still exist. While platooning isn’t a horrible idea given LSU’s depth, one or two players could use this series to improve their case as a regular starter.

Sydney Springfield

A big reason the Tiger offense has been as serviceable as it has is because of Springfield's hot start. She is tied for the team lead in batting average and while she is second on the team in slugging and on base percentage, she is at least 100 points ahead of the next closest player. Now, 17 at bats is still a pretty small sample size, but another strong weekend would strengthen Springfield’s case as being one of LSU’s most important hitters.

Pitch and Tune

It’s hard to argue with the totals compiled by the LSU staff early in the season, but the journey hasn’t been as spectacular. These could all be the result of early season rust and there shouldn’t be any major concern going forward. However, this series presents a great opportunity for the staff to work out any lingering issues or experiment with any new strategies before the always tough Mary Nutter Classic the following weekend.

Estimated Outcome

Georgia Southern and Central Arkansas are a combined 3-8 entering this series. Even if both teams were over .500, LSU would still be a massive favorite to win all four games. This should be a series LSU is looking to sweep, ideally with at least two by run-rule. LSU’s defense has been better, at least compared to this point last season, with just two errors through six games. As long as that level of defense keeps up and the LSU pitching doesn't completely fall apart, everything should go smoothly. On offense, there should be a focus on the bottom half of the lineup producing. The top of the lineup has been fine and it would be nice to see hitters seven through nine coming through in a bigger capacity. Even if the bottom of the lineup doesn’t explode, the lineup as a whole should have no difficulty scoring runs this weekend.