Just up the stairs around a right turn around the corner in LSU’s plush softball facility at Tiger Park, a progress report hangs on the wall.
Attached are magnets to a tote board, the order defined by the Southeastern Confernece standings.
At the bottom of the first row, there sit the Tigers. Six squads above them. Six squads below, too.
The symmetry defines opportunity to the next two weekends, starting with LSU (28-20, 8-10) a three-game series at struggling Ole Miss (22-25, 2-15) that opens at 6 p.m. Friday.
Win, and the Tigers recent surge toward prime seeding in the SEC tournament adds velocity to go with a four-game win streak.
Lose, and, well, the other possibility is obvious.
“The SEC is so crazy,” coach Beth Torina said. “I don’t know if we’re in a position to win it, but we still want to be seeded as high as we can and make sure we clinch a berth.”
Indeed, Alabama has a seven-game lead on the Tigers with six games to go. Yet Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee are all deadlocked in a tie for second, and their margin with LSU is just four games. Florida and Georgia? They have a three-game cushion.
But those five programs may beat each other bloody in five series where they square off in the next two weekends. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ draw — the Rebels and Mississippi State next week — pits them against teams with a combined 10-26 mark in SEC play.
Throw in winning six of their past eight, along with series wins against the Volunteers and Georgia, and there’s a sense that finishing kick comes now.
“Honestly, we’re peaking at the right time,” freshman pitcher Baylee Corbello said. “You always want to be at the top of your game, but I feel like we’re really starting to play our best ball.”
And walloping it all over the place.
Over the past two weeks, the Tigers are batting .257, but their .498 slugging percentage is a sign that Torina’s squad is punishing opposing staffs, including top-three teams nationally in ERA in Georgia and South Alabama.
Timely hitting, an issue Torina carped about early in the SEC slate, has come around, which started with two extra-inning victories against Georgia two weeks ago.
“That was a huge series,” Corbello said. “That was only more proof we’re able to compete with the best in the nation. It just gives that extra confidence.”
A week ago, the Tigers thumped one the SEC’s weaker collection of arms at South Carolina. In a double-header agains the Gamecocks, they hit .450, slugged .690 and outscored the Gamecocks by 21 runs.
Of course, there was a hiccup in an 8-0 loss.
“Our Sunday problem came back to haunt us,” Falcon said.
Ole Miss, though, offers the same potential to keep the big swings going. The Rebels’ combined 3.38 ERA is 13th in the SEC, while the 38 doubles they’ve allowed ranks 10th and the 33 home runs launched over the wall puts them at No. 11.
Meanwhile, the defense behind pitchers in the circle has struggled, ranking last with a .958 fielding percentage.
Sure, the Tigers’ address the coming weekend in polite terms.
But the end goal is simply minced.
“We know what’s out there,” Falcon said. “We just need to step up and take it.”