If the LSU softball team keeps playing the way it has all season, this weekend’s trip to Missouri will be its last games away from Tiger Park unless the team reaches the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
“That’s pretty crazy, and we thought about that,” catcher Kellsi Kloss said. “Of course, we have to take care of business with a very good Missouri team and a very good Auburn team (next weekend) before we really have our minds set on that, but that’s our goal — to host regionals and a super regional.
“It’s pretty awesome to think that if we just keep the course that we’re staying on, then we have a pretty good advantage going into the playoffs.”
LSU (41-6, 13-5 Southeastern Conference) is ranked No. 3 and fighting Florida and Auburn for the SEC regular-season title. The Tigers are a half-game behind the Gators but have the tiebreaker edge after winning two of three in Gainesville last month. They are tied with Auburn, which they host in the final three games of the regular season.
The SEC tournament will be at Tiger Park on May 6-9. It would take a dramatic fall-off in that tourney and the final seven regular-season games for LSU not to stay at home for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Coach Beth Torina understandably isn’t interested in speculating about “so many variables” regarding the postseason.
“If we continue to do the job every time we take the field,” Torina said, “the rest will take care of itself.”
Torina said despite their success, the Tigers can do a better job on the field, starting with Saturday’s series opener.
“We need to improve on giving people things for free, both defensively and on the mound,” she said. “I think if we could take away a lot of what we’ve been giving away you’d see a different outcome in some of the losses we’ve had recently.”
In the Tigers’ last game, they allowed two unearned runs and walked eight in a 5-2 loss to Texas A&M on Monday, their first loss at Tiger Park this season.
More than a quarter of the 98 runs allowed by LSU (26) have been unearned.
“We’re running on all (other) cylinders pretty well right now, but our defense is something that we need to make sure is well put together for this weekend,” Kloss said. “Missouri’s going to put the ball in play. Even though our pitching staff is very good Missouri is not going to strike out a ton. We need to get out of innings and make sure we don’t extend innings longer than they need to be.”
The series against No. 15 Missouri (33-10, 11-7) begins a stretch of seven games in nine days for the Tigers, who are 6-5 on the road.
The last time LSU played at Missouri was in 2012, when it upset the host school to earn a trip to the WCWS.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.