The Tigers return to Oklahoma City will once again travel through Tallahassee, as LSU faces Florida State in the Super Regionals. Last year, it was the Tigers emerging victorious in this matchup, taking two-of-three from the ‘Noles.
Friday – LSU at Florida State – 6 p.m. CT – ESPNU, 107.3 FM
Saturday – LSU at Florida State – 4 p.m. CT – ESPN2, 107.3 FM
Sunday (if necessary) – LSU at Florida State – 2 p.m. CT - ESPNU, 107.3 FM
As is the case from a year ago, Florida State is a really good team. They dominated the ACC, racking up just three losses in conference play and have wins over Oregon, Florida, Alabama, ULL, Minnesota, Michigan and most recently in the regional, Auburn. The Seminoles are an extremely well rounded team ranking in the top-20 nationally in most statistical categories. Offensively, the Noles hit for power with a team slugging of .508, eighth in the country, and they have speed, averaging 2.23 stolen bases per game, also eighth in the country. In the circle, the Noles 1.40 ERA is, yes, eighth in the nation, and they rank 11th in K/BB at 3.85.
Players to Watch
The Tigers faced standout pitcher Meghan King last year, but this year the biggest threat is likely from Hanson. A transfer from Florida Atlantic, Hanson has absolutely dominated this year with a 1.00 ERA, 225 K, and a .134 OPP BA. As last weekend’s 1-0 win over Houston proved, the Tiger bats can still go quiet against good pitching, which in that game was the Cougar’s Savannah Heebner. If there is one area where Hanson is susceptible it is surrendering extra base hits, having allowed 30 in 152.2 innings of work. That averages to about one per seven innings. That might not sound like a lot, but in what figures to be a pitchers duel most of the weekend, a well timed extra base hit could be a decisive blow.
Warren provides the two-way offensive power that a lineup can be built around. She leads the team in most offensive categories including slugging (.816) and on base percentage (.521). Warren didn’t have a monster weekend against the Tigers last year, but that makes her all the more dangerous with this weekend’s series. With some serious speed in the Seminole lineup even a single by Warren could drive in multiple runs.
Schlattman was one of the stars of the regional, as one of the most consistent Tigers over the series with four hits and four RBI’s. Her bat gives the Tigers a critical piece near the bottom of the lineup, providing support in the event the top-half of the batting order isn’t having a great day. This weekend, Schlattman takes on additional value defensively as she will be tasked with controlling the dangerous Florida State running game.
Carley Hoover can still claim the title of LSU ace, but it has been Walljasper who has staked the claim to LSU MVP, particularly down the stretch. Aside from a flooky outing against ULL, Walljasper was money for the Tigers in the regional, and even in the SEC Tournament. Expect her to get the ball for Game 1 on Friday and make frequent appearances throughout the weekend. Walljasper might have to be a little more reliant on getting players out at the plate, with the FSU speed game potentially leading to some additional infield hits if the ball is put in play. Walljasper figures to be LSU’s most important player this weekend.
LSU is going to need some extra base hits this weekend. If runs, and likely baserunners, figure to be limited, it is going to take more than a station-to-station hitting for the Tigers to cash in. Assuming Aliyah Andrews, Taryn Antoine and Emily Griggs due their respective parts, that should mean opportunities for Doyle. The sophomore has been a constant in the middle of the Tiger lineup as the Tigers best hitter, while also showing solid, clutch-hitting ability. LSU will need some of that this weekend with some extra base hits from their slugger.
The stats say Florida State should win this series, mainly because FSU’s offensive numbers top the Tigers’ offensive totals. Don’t get sucked into the numbers. Florida State has certainly done everything it needs to for a deserved Super Regional host opportunity and no doubt exists they are one of the best teams in the country. However, the ACC, at least this year, might be the worst conference among the Power-5 in softball, with just FSU and Notre Dame qualifying for the WCWS. In the last round, Notre Dame lost to Kentucky in two games by a combined score of 18-0. For a team in Florida State’s situation, it’s probably wiser to go off the big wins for judging FSU’s success. Against Power-5 teams in the regular season that went on to qualify for the WCWS, Florida State went 8-5, two of those wins game against Notre Dame in ACC play, which is still very good but shows they can be beat by elite teams. All this to say that LSU should not be overly intimidated entering this series, especially since returnees like Griggs and Andrews did find some success last season. What will keep LSU in this series is the pitching. Walljasper, Carley Hoover and Maribeth Gorsuch will all probably play a role this weekend and it is imperative they keep games close given LSU’s offensive struggles. There would be disappointment, but no shame, if the Tigers season ends in Tallahassee. With recent history, confidence, and the knowledge it will likely take just a handful of few plays in their favor, the Tigers should be optimistic that a flight to Oklahoma City could be in the works after this weekend.