LSU continues its homestand and its seven game win streak with three games against Mississippi State.
Friday 3/31: 6PM, SECN+, 107.3 FM
Saturday 4/1: 6PM, SECN+, 107.3FM
Sunday 4/2: 1PM, SECN+, 107.3 FM
Mississippi State enters this series unranked with a 26-9 record overall and a 2-4 record in conference play. The 26 wins account for the total MSU had last season so things are looking up. However, the Bulldogs out-of-conference schedule has not been that strong. That became more apparent in SEC play as MSU has been outscored 26 to 7 through six SEC games.
Players to know: Reggie Harrison (.402 AVG, .649 SLG, .521 OBP), Bevia Robinson (.340 AVG, 18 SB, .407 OBP), Alexis Silkwood (.93 ERA, 70 K, .200 OPP BA), Holly Ward (1.42 ERA, 60 K, .184 OPP BA).
The Bulldogs are not a force offensively, ranking near the bottom of the SEC in most statistical categories, most notably slugging and home runs, where MSU is dead last. If there is a plus, it is that the Bulldogs put the ball in play a ton. They are third in the conference in hits and fewest strikeouts, despite leading the conference in at bats. They also don’t walk that much either. The MSU speed game is okay, ranking seventh in the conference in steals with 50.
On the pitching end, MSU appears to be solid. A big reason for the Bulldogs 1.40 team ERA, fourth in the SEC, is due to Alexis Silkwood’s sub-1 ERA. Mississippi State also ranks fourth in strikeouts and is seventh in opponents batting average. However, the Bulldogs are tenth in hits allowed and 12th in walks allowed. The Bulldogs defense isn’t particularly strong either, with 37 errors, second worst in the conference.
What to Watch For
The Tigers picked up three big wins last weekend, wins that proved they could beat top tier competition. Now they need to do it again. Consistency has been an issue throughout the season, with too many frustrating losses for a team as talented as LSU. Last week’s win put LSU back in the top-10 of the polls and another strong weekend would validate that status. Mississippi State does not appear to be one of the great teams LSU will face this year, but they are still a good SEC team and picking up three wins would certainly show the Tigers are moving in the right direction.
Bottom To The Top
Earlier in the season, the bottom of the Tiger offense was a weak spot of the lineup. Of late though, the unit has been pretty strong. The combination of Amber Serrett, Connie Quinn, Aliyah Andrews and Shemiah Sanchez have combined for 18 hits and 14 runs over the last five games for the Tigers. Although the bottom of the lineup does not have to carry the team offensively, seeing an increase in production adds critical depth to the Tiger lineup, which hopefully will lead to more consistency on offense.
With the Tigers riding high off of last weekend, there should be confidence in LSU’s ability to sweep the series. LSU’s pitchers should be able to beat the MSU lineup, which does not appear to be much of a threat. Offensively, this could be similar to last weekend where the Tigers do just enough to secure a win. If that is the case, the offense will again have to be extremely timely and opportunistic since this Mississippi State pitching staff is likely going to be tougher than Georgia’s. Similar to Georgia however, is Mississippi State’s sketchy defense. Like last weekend, if LSU can capitalize on the Bulldog miscues, there will be some chances for big innings. It appears as though LSU has hit its stride and picking up three wins this weekend would certainly add to the team’s confidence and send a message that things are beginning to solidify in Baton Rouge.