LSU softball team focused on talented McNeese State team, which visits Tuesday _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU head coach Beth Torina coaches against Florida, Saturday, March 26, 2016, at LSU's Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.

The LSU softball team’s final midweek opponent of the season has its attention.

The No. 14 Tigers (36-13) were back on the practice field Monday after a weekend sweep of South Carolina in preparation for their game against McNeese at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Tiger Park. It will air online at SEC Network Plus.

One last Southeastern Conference series remains beginning Friday at Arkansas, but first come the Southland Conference-leading Cowgirls (33-10). McNeese ranks 38th in the latest RPI and received a vote in the most recent USA Softball poll.

“We’re approaching this one a little differently just because McNeese is so talented,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “A lot of times we’re playing them after an off day. We’re not going to do that this week. We’re going to go ahead and prepare for them and take our off day (Wednesday) just because they are so talented and we’ve seen what they can do.”

The Cowgirls have played a challenging nonconference schedule, winning one of three at then-No. 16 Baylor and taking then-No. 5 Louisiana-Lafayette to nine innings before losing 5-4. They’ve also played three games against SEC opponents, splitting two against Mississippi State and defeating Ole Miss.

“McNeese has been beating teams in the SEC,” infielder Bianka Bell said. “And they always give us a great game.”

Cowgirls sophomore catcher Erika Piancastelli is second in the nation with 20 home runs, and her 38 career homers have tied the school record.

The Tigers have won six straight, their longest winning streak since SEC play began more than six weeks ago.

“This is the team that came out at the beginning of the season,” Bell said. “I definitely think we’re playing a lot looser. We’re having fun, and we’re just focusing on the team more than what we’re doing individually. When we focus on the team instead of ourselves, we have better outcomes.”

LSU has won eight of the past 10 meetings against McNeese, including a five-inning, 13-4 victory in Lake Charles last season.

The Tigers are 26-2 against nonconference opponents, including 9-0 in mid-week games and 6-0 against in-state opponents.

During the current winning streak, they have averaged 7.5 runs.

In four games last week, their starting pitchers all went the distance and allowed just one earned run.

Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.