The emerging Tiger offense was no match for the Crimson Tide pitching staff this weekend as LSU lost two of three games to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
LSU’s offense was limited to just three runs on the weekend, which included a 3-0 loss Friday night where the Tigers were no-hit through most of the game, and finished with two hits. What seemed to be particularly troubling was LSU’s inability to score in timely situations. Going into this series, it was clear that the pitching for both teams would be very good and chances would be limited. Although the Tigers didn’t get many hits Friday, they did have runners reach but stranded 10. On Sunday, they left eight runners on base.
If there are two people who should not be blamed for LSU’s struggles they would be Bailey Landry and Beth Torina. Landry was the only Tiger to get a hit in every game including the only RBI in Saturday’s game, picking up a total of seven hits on the weekend. Torina did everything in her power to spark the offense. She used three noticeably different lineups this weekend, the most notable being Sunday’s lineup with Aliyah Andrews leading off, Emily Griggs in the six spot, and Elyse Thornhill hitting seventh. This order was the most productive, scoring the most runs for the Tigers of any game in the series, though two runs should not be taken as a major success. It should also be noted that Sydney Springfield started just once this series, while Amanda Doyle got the start on Friday and Saturday.
There seems to be two ways of considering such major changes by Torina this weekend. The first is that Alabama’s staff was just so overpowering, the best strategy was just to rotate in the players Torina was less confident about. The second approach is that Torina is tired of such a low-run output and a quick benching for some players might generate a spark. If you’re taking bets, it might be wise to pick towards the latter. It’s been apparent for a couple of weeks that LSU’s offensive problems are not going to go away and perhaps this shuffling is a sign of things to come.
LSU’s pitching did its part, though there were some curious coaching decisions. The most apparent was Carley Hoover only pitching two innings of relief in Sunday’s game and not starting any of the three games. The other, was not starting Sydney Smith in the Sunday finale instead of Allie Walljasper. Smith was coming off a shutout victory in Saturday’s game, allowing just six base runners. While Walljasper wasn’t necessarily bad, she had given up three runs and six hits in Friday’s loss.
This weekend had parallels to most LSU losses this season where the pitching ranged from good to at worst serviceable, but the offense could never get going. At this point, the only cure is likely experience though that will require more games like this. More specifically, Doyle and Springfield are going to have to regain their early season form. Similar to Amber Serrett last year, Doyle and Springfield were asked to contribute meaningfully early and while they were initially up to the task, their play has dropped substantially of late. Until then, Torina can make some adjustments but nothing that would resolve LSU’s runs deficiency.
Keep in mind, this was a very good Alabama pitching staff with Alexis Osorio pitching like someone who had something to prove after getting rocked by LSU last year. Not every staff will be this much of a problem…during the regular season. When postseason comes around, these are the staffs which LSU appears to be ill-equipped to handle.
LSU stays on the road with a mid-week contest against McNeese and then three games against Ole Miss in Oxford.