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Weekend Softball Preview: Missouri

SEC play continues with three games in Columbia

After a solid weekend and a nice mid-week win, the Tigers are back to SEC play with three games against Missouri.

The Schedule

Vs. Missouri, Fri. March 30, 3 PM SECN+

Vs. Missouri, Fri. March 30, 6 PM SECN+

Vs. Missouri, Sat. March. 31, 2 PM SECN+

The Opponent

Missouri’s season was interesting even before a pitch was thrown, with the program firing head coach Ehren Earleywine in late January, just before the season started. Things haven’t really improved off of that. Missouri sits with a 19-17 record with just two wins in SEC play, and few wins against other teams of note. Offensively the Tigers are solid placing near the middle of the SEC in several offensive categories, but rank dead last in the conference in team ERA.

Players to Watch

Shelbi Sunseri

When she arrived on campus, Sunseri was arguably the most highly touted recruit in the 2018 freshman class, with value both as a hitter and pitcher. Beth Torina gave Sunseri an early look, only to have an injury sideline the freshman for a few weeks. Since returning from injury, she is 3-for-8 with three RBIs and a home run. It is a small size. However, the Tigers have been in desperate need for more bats to hit after the top three or four. Against a potentially suspect MU pitching staff, Sunseri could keep up her strong return from injury.

Carley Hoover

Hoover doesn’t have anything new to prove this weekend. She is however continuing to prove why she is the Tiger ace. Over her last five starts, Hoover has allowed just five earned runs in 38.2 innings with 43 strikeouts in that stretch. At her current pace, she will come close to setting a season best for strikeouts in the season. This weekend will provide at least one more opportunity for Hoover to continue her dominance.

Amanda Doyle

The sophomore has certainly earned her spot as the number three hitter in the LSU lineup, clearly offering the best of contact and power ability. However, the RBI numbers haven’t been there of late for Doyle, with just four in her last eight games. In fairness, those totals are predicated on others getting on base ahead of her. Still, with LSU’s offense still being the weaker unit, Doyle must make the most of her RBI opportunities.

Estimated Outcome

Statistically this Mizzou series has some similarities to the Kentucky series. Both teams have some sneaky offense, and both teams seem to struggle in the pitching category. The Kentucky series was on the road and ended with the Tigers essentially getting swept. That series really came down to a lack of hitting on the part of LSU. Entering this weekend, the LSU offense will be the question. If Michaela Schlattman can continue her success out of the cleanup spot and Shelbi Sunseri or Amber Serrett can contribute as needed, the offense should be okay for the next three games. Ideally, if the Tigers can take the first two games of this series, Maribeth Gorsuch, or maybe even Sunseri, could get some work in the finale, for some added relief for Hoover and Allie Walljasper. Mizzou seems like a team LSU should sweep, but if the Kentucky series proved anything it’s that it is unwise to underestimate SEC foes.