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LSU Softball Weekend Preview: Rock Chalk Challenge

Maribeth Gorsuch
Madeline VeZain / LSUSports.net

It took a come from behind, extra-inning effort for the Tigers to defeat Wichita State last night. LSU remains in Kansas for the Rock Chalk Challenge, looking to string together some wins after a tough outing against Auburn last weekend.

The Schedule

Fri 3/17 - Nebraska-Omaha 9 AM

Fri 3/17- Kansas 4:30 PM, CST

Sat 3/18 - Tulsa 9 AM, CST

Sat 3/18 - Southeast Missouri 11:30 AM, CST

The Opponents

Nebraska-Omaha (8-14)

Players to know: Kelly Pattison (.303 AVG, 2 HR, .485 SLG), Liz Mancuso (.328 AVG, 7 SB, 4 2B).

Although the Mavericks don’t have a great record, they have played some tough opponents in Stanford, Utah, and Oklahoma. The profile of this team offensively is built on power, with 12 home runs as a team. Pitching isn’t a strength with the team ERA at 4.28.

Kansas (16-9)

Players to know: Lily Berhmann (.500 OBP, 6 2B, .543 SLG), Jessie Roane (5 HR, .622 SLG, .366 AVG), Alexis Reid (54 K, 1.53 ERA, .260 OPBA).

Kansas enters this series with a winning record, but has lost three games to James Madison, FIU and South Alabama, three teams that either were in the latest poll or received votes. Despite this, Kansas has a balanced, versatile team with 11 players having seen action in 15 or more games this season. The Jayhawks are solid at getting on base and have good power. The pitching is mainly handled by Reid, but the staff as a whole has an ERA of 1.82.

Tulsa (15-10)

Players to know: Julia Hollingsworth (.544 SLG, .456 OBP, 11 SB), Emily Watson (1.37 ERA, 123 K, .187 OPBA)

Tulsa got off to a bad start losing four of five to open the season. Things are looking better of late with an 8-0 win over Arkansas. Pitching is a strength for Tulsa, with Watson and two others combining to form a 2.38 ERA. On the offensive end, outside of Hollingsworth, the lineup doesn’t have any bats to be very concerned about.

Southeast Missouri (14-6)

Players to know: Madeline Krumery (1.50 ERA, 37 K, .231 OPBA), Rachel Anderson (.883 SLG, .551 OBP, 11 SB)

The numbers say the Redhawks are a good team, with solid totals as far as hitting, power, and pitching. However, glancing at the schedule it’s apparent the Southeast Missouri hasn’t played anyone of notice so far, thus leading to some slightly inflated totals.

What to watch for

Staying similar

Although Beth Torina has some chances to mix the Tiger lineup around, don’t expect too many changes. Elyse Thornhill will probably see some playing time, as will Aliyah Andrews. Nicky Dawson could also pick up some at bats playing second. There could be some defensive changes like Amanda Doyle playing third or Shemiah Sanchez playing second base. Beyond that don’t expect too many changes through the LSU lineup.

Starting at the top

One of the overlooked headlines from last weekend was the performance of Emily Griggs. In her last four games, which includes last night’s win, Griggs is just 2-for-20. Griggs might not put up the power numbers of Sahvanna Jaquish or the hitting totals of Bailey Landry, but strategically Griggs starts that formidable part of the Tiger lineup, ahead of Landry and Jaquish. With LSU’s offense at times being inconsistent, the Tigers cannot afford one of their veterans in a deep slump.

Estimated Outcome

Although the Tigers had looked off for portions of this year, last weekend finally revealed what the Tigers are seriously lacking: Experience. LSU regularly plays just four upperclassmen position players (Connie Quinn, Griggs, Jaquish and Landry) and overall this is still a very young team. A talented team, as the 8-0 run rule game demonstrated, but an inexperienced one, evidenced by the inability to put away Auburn in the two losses. For now this seems like a problem LSU is just going to have to deal with. There doesn’t appear to be a more viable option on the roster this year. For this coming weekend, expect the Tigers to show those equal flashes of brilliance and youth. LSU’s pitchers, who were okay last weekend, should put up some dominant totals this weekend. On offense, the Tigers might have their moments of struggle but should end up with solid totals by weekend end. Ideally with four, relatively easy wins.