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Softball Weekend Preview: LSU Invitational

The Tigers return to Baton Rouge for five at Tiger Park

Becca Schulte
MG Miller/LSUSports.net

LSU returns to Baton Rouge with two losses from the California trip, but still rank 10th in the country. The Tigers host four teams for five games at Tiger Park before conference play begins next weekend.

The Schedule

LSU vs. Illinois State, March 2, 5 p.m., SECN+

LSU vs. McNeese State, March 2, 7:30 p.m., SECN+

LSU vs. Purdue, March 3, 5 p.m., SECN+

LSU vs. Florida Atlantic, March 3, 7:30 p.m., SECN+

LSU vs. Florida Atlantic, March 4, 12 p.m., SECN+

The Opponents

Florida Atlantic and McNeese State are two opponents that Tiger fans should be accustomed too. FAU has visited Tiger Park three of the last four years. The more local McNeese has also been a fairly frequent Tiger opponent, both during the regular season, and postseason, with the Tigers having faced McNeese in the NCAA Regionals in the last two seasons. This year the Cowgirls are enjoying a great start with wins over then 20th ranked Tulsa and No.9 Florida State, and are the only loss on an otherwise undefeated Arkansas team.

Players to Watch

Amber Serrett

While Amanda Doyle is LSU’s top bat at this point in the season, the Tigers still need more quality bats in the lineup for sustained offensive success. Enter Serrett. Last year, Serrett’s offense took a bit of a step back, though it appears to be back in a big way in 2018. Coming off a solid four-hit weekend, Serrett seems to have locked down the number three spot in the lineup. The road trip isn’t the only strong indicator of Serrett’s 2018. She is second on the team with a .421 AVG, .526 SLG, .521 OBP. With a lineup that is still being sorted out, Serrett has a chance to solidify her lineup slot with another strong weekend.

Maribeth Gorsuch

The Tiger sophomore has certainly been solid in her second season. In three starts she has an ERA of 3.00 over 14 innings with 11 strikeouts. She did struggle against Oregon, surrendering four runs in two innings of relief. This weekend is key for Gorsuch. With conference play beginning in a week, this likely marks one of the final times Gorsuch will see action on the weekend, at least for the foreseeable future. That does not diminish this weekend, as Gorsuch still needs a strong outing to justify consistent action as the midweek starter.

Becca Schulte

Schulte quickly locked down second base for the Tigers, and is one of six Tiger position players who have played in every game this season. She has also been pretty solid at the plate, with the third best slugging and on base percentage on the team. Schulte has been in a slump of late though, having gone hitless in her last eight at bats. A dry spell for Schulte isn’t the end of the world for the Tiger offense, but there does need to be some form of consistency in the bottom half of the line up, which Schulte can provide.

Estimated Outcome

Even against a ranked McNeese team, the Tigers are well positioned to sweep these five games. After some less than awesome outings by Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper last weekend, expect both players to be back on point for this weekend. Maybe Torina gives one of them an extra start off in favor of Gorsuch or Shelbi Sunseri. Offensively, Torina still might have some experimentation to do at the bottom of the lineup. It’s become clear the players Torina wants in the lineup on the regular basis, but aside from the first four or five, there isn’t an ordering for the rest of the team. It’s not the biggest problem, though one would think Torina would like to have as much continuity as possible entering conference play next weekend.