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Women’s College World Series Preview Part 3: Keys To Victory

Pitching, experience should pay off in Oklahoma City

Chris Parent / LSUSports.net

We’ve looked at the teams that are part of the Women’s College World Series, now it’s time to examine how the Tigers can take a title back to back to Baton Rouge.

The Two Aces

It was apparent at the beginning of the season and is apparent now that where Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper go, so do the Tigers. The LSU postseason can largely be attributed to the pitching performing at a high level, at times making up for a Tiger offense that still lacks consistency. Even in the last game against FSU where Walljasper and Hoover may not have been as sharp as they normally are, they still managed to lockdown when the Seminoles were poised for a breakout inning. Not every team remaining in the tournament possesses a super potent lineup, although every team brings a cohesive unit that scores runs and will have to be dealt with in their own unique way. Health and fatigue will be an issue with Hoover, who is still wearing a brace on her leg, and there will always be concerns about energy playing so late into the season. Walljasper appeared to be running on fumes in Sunday’s game after a dominant Saturday performance. Thankfully, this stage isn’t a new one for either pitcher and expectations should understandably high entering these final games.

Star Like, Star Bright

This trip marks the third consecutive trip by LSU to Oklahoma City. Hoover, Walljasper and Emily Griggs have only known of seasons that end in Oklahoma City. Seniors like Sahvanna Jaquish and Bailey Landry also have familiarity with the stage. More importantly, those six players are some of the biggest contributors to LSU’s success. Jaquish was just named an All-American for her fourth year in a row and became the first Tiger to accomplish that feat. Hoover, Walljasper, Griggs and Landry have all earned recognition as All-American and All-Conference throughout their career. Now is the time for that group to execute to the level of their accolades. Hoover, Walljasper and Griggs have excelled in the postseason. Landry and Jaquish could stand to be more productive. Over the last seven games, Landry has been hitless three times and Jaquish four. Both were great in the super regional elimination game, with two hits each, and will have to sustain that production along with Hoover, Walljasper and Griggs in order for an extended run.

Who’s next

Each game this postseason has revealed a different offensive contributor outside of the top of the lineup. Amber Serrett had a strong regional, Sydney Springfield picked up a couple of key hits in games two and three of the super regional, and Aliyah Andrews had two hits in the super regional finale. Along with Connie Quinn, Shemiah Sanchez and Amanda Doyle, these players are not expected to carry the load offensively. However, this group will have to come through when called upon. With some very good pitching on the horizon, there figures to be limited scoring opportunities. These players in the middle and bottom of the lineup will play a critical role in not only driving in the top of the lineup, but also doing some table setting and turning over the lineup. This doesn’t mean every player needs a hit and a run in every game, but a little offensive contribution from this group of players could pay out big throughout the series.

No Freebies

With several versatile offenses coming to Oklahoma City, it will be imperative for the Tigers to be sharp defensively. The Tiger defense has played well of late and hasn’t had too many errors turn to runs. However, one only has to remember the elimination game to Oklahoma last year when LSU’s defensive issues compounded, with four errors in the loss to the Sooners. LSU’s defense will be particularly critical in the low scoring games as one defensive mishap could result in a critical, game-deciding run.

Estimated Outcome

The Tigers are a in a bit of a strange spot. They were favorites to return to Oklahoma City in the pre-season, but currently are one of the lowest seeded teams remaining in the tournament. In spite of the low seed, the Tigers should be favorites in this tournament. LSU is one of the more veteran clubs in the field, with optimal levels of talent and experience in the lineup and in the circle. Perhaps most important, the Tigers appear to hitting their stride when it matters most. These next few days will no doubt be the toughest opponents LSU faces all year. Tough outs, but not impossible. A deep run should be in the works for the Tigers. With pitching that has the stuff and the smarts, and a lineup that is clicking at the right time, reaching the final four of the tournament should be achievable.

LSU's quest for a title starts with UCLA at 1:30 PM Thursday, 6/1