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LSU Softball Weekend Preview: Alabama

Tigers head to Tuscaloosa for three games.

Bridgette Hogan/LSU

The daunting SEC schedule continues for the Tigers with a road trip to Tuscaloosa to take on No.11/12 Alabama.

The Schedule

Friday 4/7: 6:30 p.m., 107.3 FM

Saturday 4/8: 8 p.m., SECN+, 107.3 FM

Sunday 4/9: 2 p.m., ESPN 2, 107.3 FM

The Opponent

The Alabama season got off to a pretty good start with a seven game winning streak before losing two of three games to then #18 ULL. Bama got back on their winning ways, ripping off a 20-game winning streak which included a sweep of then #24 Arkansas. Bama isn’t entering this series on a particularly strong note, having lost two of three to Missouri.

Players to know: Sydney Littlejohn (.92 ERA, 142 K, .182 OPPBA), Alexis Osorio (1.20 ERA, 203 K, .116 OPPBA), Merris Schroder (.381 AVG, .631 SLG, 4 HR), Peyton Grantham (6 HR, 33 RBI, .295 AVG), Demi Turner (.373 AVG. .486 SLG, .457 OBP).

Although the Tide are third in the SEC standings, they are in the middle of the conference in most statistical catagories. The Alabama attack is more small ball oriented, leading the conference in sac bunts, ranking 2nd in walks and fifth in stolen bases. They do have some power so this isn’t a totally one-dimensional offense. Bama’s pitching stats are a bit skewed as Madi Moore’s 5.03 ERA in 12 games has inflated the overall staff ERA. Alabama has a commanding lead in the SEC strikeout standings with 364, 37 more than second place Florida. If there is a weakness to the staff it is they can be home run prone.

What to Watch for

Which Offense?

Although LSU ranks near the top of the conference in a few offensive categories, it’s apparent those numbers are not always reflective of how LSU performs on the field. The lineup of late hasn’t been great in terms of total run production, but they have excelled at driving in runs when given opportunities. This has mostly been against lesser pitching staff. When LSU has gone against very good pitching staffs this season, the Tigers have struggled mightily. Good news is that last year the Tigers scored 14 runs against Osorio last season and hopefully, that past success leads to success this weekend.

The Pitching...Improving

LSU’s pitching has been awesome lately. The staff has been allowing an average of just 1.3 runs per game since March 16th and it’s been a true team effort. Finding the pitching MVP of the weekend is a challenge considering Carley Hoover, Sydney Smith and Allie Walljasper are performing at such a high level. Alabama has a similar offensive style to Georgia. Although Georgia might statistically be better, Alabama’s balance of contact and power could make them a more formidable opponent. However, given LSU’s current streak and the fact that the Tigers contained a lineup similar to Georgia, there should provide optimism for these next three games that the pitching strong performance will continue this weekend.

Estimated Outcome

Given the Tigers recent flow, two out of three seems very doable. In order for that to happen, the burden will fall on the offense to maintain the timely hitting it has displayed over the last two series. What will make that challenging this weekend is not only the Alabama’s pitching staff, but its defense which isn’t as error prone as Mississippi State or Georgia. Of course, LSU did rock Osorio last year which should give some confidence to the returning hitters, though also some substantial motivation for Osario. All things considered the Tiger lineup should feel confident entering this series. The offense hasn’t been dominant but the breaks have been working in the Tigers’ favor. On the pitching end, so long as the pitching staff keeps the game within three runs, which should be very doable, the Tigers will be well positioned to pick up the series victory.