The Tigers dropped their final regular season series to South Carolina, losing two of three to the Gamecocks and enter the SEC Tournament with even more doubt, as concerns about the health of Sydney Smith and Carley Hoover increase.
Hoover was declared “day-to-day” by Beth Torina before the series and Hoover didn’t throw a pitch in any of the three games. A precautionary measure possibly, but considering LSU needs to fight for a good Regional bid, the move is somewhat surprising. In Saturday’s loss, Sydney Smith logged just two thirds of an inning, having surrendered two runs on two hits and two walks.
Outings from LSU’s two other healthy pitchers were mixed. Allie Walljasper logged three scoreless innings to open her Friday start but then blew a three-run lead, capped off by a four-run fifth inning. Walljasper did rebound in the series finale, holding South Carolina to just two runs in a complete game victory, surrendering just six hits and striking out three. In Saturday’s game, when Smith was relieved early, Maribeth Gorsuch got the call for her first SEC appearance of the year going 5.1 allowing four hits and three walks, leading to two runs, and striking out three.
Under different circumstances, seeing Gorsuch have a serviceable SEC outing or having Walljasper struggle, wouldn’t cause that much scrutiny. Long term, Gorsuch’s outing is likely promising as these are teams she will be facing at some point in her career and needed to gain experience at some point. A bad outing by Walljasper isn’t the end of the world, but against a struggling South Carolina team as LSU itself faces its own struggles, is frustrating.
Offensively, it was much of the same. The big positive from the weekend is that LSU scored first in all three games, including three first inning total runs. There was also a solid amount of missed opportunities for LSU to score runs. Saturday, trailing by a run in the fifth, Amanda Doyle was unable to drive in runners on second and third with two outs. In the final two innings of Friday’s game, LSU managed just one base runner.
The top of the Tiger lineup did its part with Emily Griggs, Bailey Landry and Sahvanna Jaquish reaching base at least once in every game. Despite Landry’s weekend, she was not able to hold her lead in the SEC batting title, falling just eight points shy of Tennessee’s Meghan Gregg. Sunday’s game was one of the more distributed offensive performances of the year with seven Tigers recording one hit each.
To say the weekend’s outcome is disappointing is an understatement. The Tigers needed to win, they didn’t. The Tigers needed to stay intact and the injuries to Hoover and potentially Smith mean LSU is even weaker entering the SEC Tournament than originally anticipated.
Tournament play is here, with the Tigers traveling to Knoxville for a first-round matchup with Missouri on Wednesday, with a win putting them in line to face host Tennessee the following day.
Here is the bracket for the 2017 SEC Softball Tournament. Looking forward to some great games in Knoxville! #SECSB pic.twitter.com/t9XsGuDIsj— SEC Softball Tourney (@SECSBTourney) May 7, 2017