After 53 games the Tigers are now in the postseason. The first task will be to navigate the 2018 SEC Tournament. Last year LSU went on an impressive run going from fifth seed, upsetting then No.3 seed Tennessee and No.2 Auburn, en route to an appearance in the tournament championship team.
The Schedule & Bracket
LSU’s SEC title quest begins at 4PM on Wednesday against Ole Miss. The Tigers won the series when the two faced off at Tiger Park. Last year Ole Miss beat the Tigers in the SEC Tournament title game.
Full bracket can be found here. The championship game will be Saturday at 7 PM. Columbia Missouri is this year’s host.
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching
The postseason isn’t the best time to for LSU to reinvent itself. Carley Hoover, Allie Walljasper, and even Maribeth Gorsuch, have been the driving force for the Tigers all season. How Beth Torina deploys all three pitchers remains to be seen. Right now it would seem Walljasper, who was the lone Tiger to be named First Team All-SEC, would get the start against Ole Miss. Torina seems to have favored Gorushch more of late over Hoover, but that might be more of an effort to give Hoover some time off. Ultimately, all three hurlers will have to be at their best whenever they are called upon over the coming days.
Start at the Top
Although the unit as a whole has struggled, LSU has found success lately with Alyiah Andrews, Taylor Antoine, Emily Griggs and Amanda Doyle hitting one through four at the top of the lineup. Outside of Doyle the group doesn’t possess a ton of power, but they all get on base frequently and Andrews, Antoine, Griggs represent three of the Tigers’ best runners. Something to keep an eye on is how long Torina keeps these four together during the postseason, should one of them enter into a slump or someone at the bottom heats up.
No extras, no leftovers
Don’t expect LSU to be taking part in many run-rule wins over these next few days. Opportunities to score for both teams, in each game, figure to be limited. Defensively, this means the Tiger defense needs to be sharp as ever, with a misplay leading to a decisive run or opening things up for a big inning. Offensively, the Tigers must avoid blunders on the base path and not leave a small army stranded on base.
Aside from outright winning the tournament, the second goal for the Tigers in the SEC Tournament is to pad the resume enough to earn a seed high enough in the Women’s College World Series to host a Super Regional. Providing the Tigers don’t get crushed by the Rebels, Tiger Park should see at least some action in as a regional host. Now what will it take to secure that Super Regional bid is more unclear. At a minimum the Tigers would have to beat Ole Miss Wednesday and then Tennessee the following game. Although Tennessee swept the Tigers when the teams played in the regular season, the contests were pretty close including one that the Vols won on a walk-off in extras. If LSU beats Tennessee, it would probably play Florida the following round. A win in that game would very likely secure a high enough seed for the Tigers, as they would enter the WCWS No.9 in the RPI, with two consecutive wins over top-10 RPI teams and, at worst, runner up in the SEC Tournament. All of this is easier said than done. LSU enters the tournament having played well of late and shouldn’t feel an extreme pressure to win the tournament. However, a few wins against some of the best in the country would certainly demonstrate the Tigers are playing their best ball at the best time.
All four days of the SEC Softball Tournament will air live on an ESPN TV platform. Wednesday and Thursday will be live for four games each day starting at 11an on SEC Network. Friday’s Semi-Finals will be on ESPNU, and the Saturday Championship game will be on ESPN2