It was another bad weekend for the No. 21 Tigers, with LSU dropping its third consecutive series, getting swept in three games by the No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats in gamed dogged by the Tigers pitching staffs inability to prevent the Wildcats from scoring.
The first game saw Shelbi Suneri unable to hold a 3-1 Tiger lead, as UK score four runs over the final two innings winning 5-3. Game two, Ali Kilponen couldn’t keep a 4-0 LSU lead and was pulled after just 3.1 innings and replaced by Shelby Wickersham, who allowed another four runs en route to the 8-5 Wildcat win. In the finale, Raelin Chaffin couldn’t hold down a 1-0 lead despite grinding out 5.2 innings only to be relieved by Sunseri, who had another bad outing allowing two runs in and inning and a third giving Kentucky a 5-3 win.
To the pitching staffs defense, the offense and defense had their own shortcomings. Averaging 3.6 runs will not be good enough to consistently beat the best teams in the country. In the field, four of the fifteen Wildcat runs were unearned, as the Tigers committed five errors on the weekend and has the second most errors in the SEC at 43.
For a second consecutive series, the one two punch of Daneica Coffeey and Ciara Briggs provided the most consistent offense over the weekend. Coffey went three-for-eight with four walks, two runs scored and an RBI. Briggs went three-of-ten with two RBI and two walk. Georgia Clark was solid in games two and three, reaching base twice in each game. Ali Newland went three-for-four with three RBI in the second game.
Closing in on the half way point of the conference schedule and the Tigers have some reflection to do. At 3-6 in conference play the Tigers would likely have to go on a torrid place to even catch up to near first place. Really what this comes down to is having the Tiger offense and pitching work well simultaneously. As of Monday, the Tigers have four players with an OPS above 1.000 and three pitchers with ERA’s below three. The individual contributions are there. Unfortunately, what has plagued the Tigers is one unit unable to pick up the other when the other unit is struggling. It’s something LSU could get away with in the earlier part of the season against teams they likely won’t be facing on the road to Oklahoma City.
The good news is that the Tigers are facing easier opponents during conference play the rest of the year, for the most part. Three of the five remaining SEC series are against teams not in the rankings as of Friday.
While it is still in the realm of possibility, it is difficult to see the Tigers getting a national seed for the Women’s College World Series, and if they do they would need a lot to happen, including a deep run in the SEC Tournament.
Starting tonight the Tigers start a three-game series against Texas A&M in College Station.