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LSU Softball Weekend Preview: Ole Miss

The Tigers face the Rebels in Oxford.

Bridgette Hogan/LSU

LSU continues its road trip with three games against the No.22 Ole Miss Rebels, looking to pick up another SEC series victory.

The Schedule

Friday 4/14 @ 2 p.m.

Friday 4/14 @ 5 p.m.

Saturday 4/15 @ 3 p.m.

All games can be seen on SECN+, and heard on 107.3 FM

The Opponent

Ole Miss enters the series with a solid 27-13 record and some good wins over South Florida, Kentucky and Auburn. On the flip side, the Rebels have been swept twice during SEC play, to Tennessee and Texas a&M, and have a mediocre 3-9 record in league play.

Players to watch: Elantra Cox (.485 AVG, .559 SLG, 22 SB), Sarah Van Schaik (.596 SLG, .327 AVG, .419 OBP), Miranda Strother (5 HR, 23 RBI, 19 SB), Kaitlin Lee (2.24 ERA, 60 K, .235 OPPBA)

Neither the Rebel pitching nor offense stands out compared to the rest of the conference. The team ranks 3rd in batting average, but 10th in slugging and sixth in run scored. Ole Miss is pretty active in the run game with 82 stolen bases, 3rd best in the SEC. The Ole Miss pitching is near the bottom of the conference in most areas. Of note, Ole Miss is dead last in the conference in strikeouts.

What to Watch For

Top half production

LSU’s offense last weekend was bad. It’s clear LSU struggles against really good pitching, which was also the case last weekend. The part of the lineup that really seems due to explode are the one through five hitters, with the exception being Bailey Landry who was the only productive Tiger last weekend. Beth Torina has been pretty set with the top three hitters but hasn’t been able to find consistent options out of the four or five hitters. With a less than stellar Ole Miss pitching staff, Torina may opt to experiment with those two slots throughout the weekend.

Collective Game

While wins this weekend are important, the Tigers were a bit out of sorts last weekend in all three areas. The offense struggled, the pitching was good but not great, and the defense was imperfect. Ole Miss is not one of the better teams LSU will face this season and these three games should provide an opportunity for the Tigers to execute in all three phases of the game.

Hoover Health

Carley Hoover saw very limited action last weekend dealing with a knee injury, but is fully cleared for this weekend. A clean bill of health is always good first step, though there will certainly be extra attention paid to the LSU ace to see if there are any lingering effects. Considering that Torina has balanced the innings between her three starters throughout the season, LSU is very confident in Sydney Smith or Allie Walljasper to pick up the slack should Hoover struggle.

Estimated Outcome

The Tigers don’t have to sweep this series, but they should play like they want to. Good news here is that LSU has secured SEC sweeps quite recently with sweeps against Georgia and Mississippi State. With the opening of the series against Ole Miss, LSU will have just four regular season SEC series remaining. This isn’t to say the Tigers need to suddenly morph into a new team, but they do need to start showing cohesiveness game-to-game, with the biggest threat to that cohesion being the offense. The Rebel’s less than amazing pitching staff would suggest many opportunities for LSU hitters, but given the inconsistencies of the Tiger lineup, scoring opportunities should not be taken for granted. Even if the offensive totals are lackluster, the Tiger pitching should manage the Rebel lineup with relative ease.