Softball Opens Series With Kentucky Saturday
BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 8 LSU softball team opens a three-game Southeastern Conference series on Saturday afternoon, hosting the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats at 2 p.m. CT at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge.
All three games against the Wildcats will be televised nationally, beginning on Saturday with the game carried live on ESPN. The two sides will get primetime billing on Sunday and Monday, as the SEC Network will pick up both games at 6 p.m. CT in Baton Rouge, with Adam Amin and Amanda Scarborough calling the action.
Patrick Wright will be on the call for radio coverage of the series on Talk 107.3 FM locally in Baton Rouge, with audio available for Geaux Zone subscribers.
Saturday is Kid’s Day at Tiger Park, as members of Dad’s and Daughters will be on hand, as the first 1,000 fans through the park gate will receive an LSU softball tattoo. Sunday is the annual Bark in the Park extravaganza, where four-legged friends will also be able to attend the game, as fans that bring any dog item for donation will be able to purchase a $2 general admission ticket with $1 hot dogs also available. On Monday we want fans to Pack the Park as 1,000 LSU softball rain ponchos will be given away, as Guaranty Broadcasting radio personalities will also be on hand and participating in some of the evening’s events.
The Tigers go into this weekend’s showdown winners of three of their last four games, sitting at 29-9 on the year and 5-7 within the SEC. LSU earned a 5-0 win over Southern Miss on Wednesday night in its return to midweek play, improving the team’s record to 21-5 at home in the friendly confines of Tiger Park this season.
LSU currently sports the fourth toughest schedule in the country according to Monday’s latest RPI release, as the team looks to continue to improve through the toughest part of the schedule after this weekend’s series, as Kentucky is the fifth ranked SEC opponent for the club in as many weeks. Kentucky is two spots behind the Tigers in the RPI, coming in at 16, as the Wildcats are 31-8 overall and 8-4 in the SEC.
“Kentucky is going to come in well coached and prepared, because it always seems we have our hands full whenever we get to play them,” head coach Beth Torina said. “They have a great pitching staff, so fortunately for us it’s starting to seem like our offense is starting to pick back up at a good time pushing into the latter half of the season.”
The last week has seen the LSU bats start to come back to life, as on Wednesday the team got hits from eight different players and scored a run in every inning but the first to defeat the Golden Eagles, as five of the eight were for extra bases including a pair of doubles, a triple and two home runs during the contest. LSU is currently hitting .333 as a team, slugging .514 with 34 home runs and 54 doubles.
Senior Bianka Bell leads the team with a .370 batting average, connecting for eight doubles and 41 RBIs, while Sahvanna Jaquish leads the team in home runs with 10 and is tied with Bailey Landry for the team lead in hits with 38.
Fellow senior Sandra Simmons leads the pack in league games with a .394 batting average, as the California native is on a seven-game hitting streak which ties her career long. Simmons and Bell are both hitting above .300 in conference play, while the duo and Bailey Landry all have double-digit hits against league competition.
The pitched shutout on Wednesday gave the LSU pitching staff 11 on the season, coming from Allie Walljasper who improved to 6-4 on the season with the victory. Walljasper has been a force in the circle with her 1.56 earned run average, helping lower the entire staff’s average to 1.90. She’s also been steady at the plate, earning a hit in each of her last four games.
Carley Hoover still leads the group with her 11-3 record and 129 strikeouts in 92.0 innings, while freshman Sydney Smith had a staff-low 0.86 ERA and team-high five shutouts with a 7-2 record. Baylee Corbello remains undefeated on the year at 5-0 with an opponent batting average of .214.
Kentucky was rolling after the first three weeks of conference play, picking up two sweeps against South Carolina and Arkansas, but ran into a buzz saw last weekend, dropping all three games to Auburn at home, including a 3-1 finale loss in nine innings last Sunday.
However the Wildcats have had LSU’s number a bit in the last 10 meetings, winning six of those contests as the Tigers halted three consecutive UK victories in the series with a 2-0 win last year in Lexington.
“I think we definitely remember what happened last year and we want to perform better than we did last year up there,” Torina said. “We played well that Sunday, but we would have liked to have the first two games back. Still, we’re going to go in with the right mindset knowing that we get to play this year in Tiger Park.”
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger softball, visit www.lsusports.net/softball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball along with @lsusoftball and @BethTorina on Twitter and @lsusb on Instagram.