Three weeks ago, LSU’s softball season appeared to totter.
As LSU sat near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference standings, an ever-ambitious schedule offered little relief.
Now, with No. 20 South Alabama arriving at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Tigers can use the midweek tilt to further bolster a solid résumé ahead of a favorable stretch in conference play.
“We’re reaping the benefits of playing such a tough schedule early,” coach Beth Torina said.
On Monday, LSU (27-20) moved up to No. 22 in the Ratings Percentage Index. It can notch another quality win if it can down the Jaguars (34-9), who sit in second place in the Sun Belt.
The Tigers, who have batted .303 in April and have averaged 6.5 runs, again will step in against a tough pitching staff.
The Jaguars’ 1.12 team ERA is the nation’s best, and they face the optimal tough choice: Do they send senior right-hander Hannah Campbell (14-4, 0.84 ERA) to the circle? Or should it be junior Farish Beard (18-5, 0.99) as the choice to confound LSU?
The Tigers have handled elite arms in series wins against Tennessee and Georgia in recent weeks, and they got big weeks from Sahvanna Jaquish and Bailey Landry last week.
Jaquish hit .467, notching three RBIs and scoring five runs, including a 5-for-5 outing Saturday in a 14-1 rout of South Carolina. Landry hit .400 in five games, including a 2-for-3 day with two RBIs in the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Gamecocks.
Emerge with a win, and LSU’s remaining schedule could help the Tigers stretch their strong recent run. This weekend’s opponent, Ole Miss (22-25, 3-15), is in the SEC cellar, and LSU’s final midweek game next Wednesday against Southeastern Louisiana — a team sitting No. 247 in the RPI — seems to offset the fact that all four of those games are on the road.
Right now, Torina’s program is in the middle of the SEC pack in seventh place, but a schedule that has risked grinding the Tigers into a fine powder now presents an opportunity.
“We are starting to have more favorable results,” Torina said, “with the way the schedule is laid out for the rest of the season.”