If the LSU softball team had a battery light, it would have been flickering throughout Tuesday’s lackadaisical 4-0, non-conference victory against McNeese State.
The Tigers (34-8, 11-4 Southeastern Conference) were coming off a hard-fought series victory at Mississippi State in which they lost the first game and needed a late home run in the finale to win their fifth consecutive series. That was before the long bus ride home and a late Sunday arrival.
LSU coach Beth Torina and her players say it’s not an indication of the No. 7 Tigers, who lead the SEC, staggering toward the finish. All are expecting a strong bounce-back effort when LSU plays host to Kentucky (25-15, 8-7) in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m.
“The vibe for us is we’re confident,” third baseman Amanda Sanchez said. “We’ve been playing well in our SEC games and won some close ones too, which shows a lot about us. We’re going to try and keep moving forward, think about the game at hand.
“For a midweek game it can be hard to get up. You can think ‘I’m LSU; I’m going to beat this team.’ (Tuesday) we got away with one, did just enough to get by. We need way better energy this weekend.”
Torina expects her senior-laden squad to bring that energy all weekend, which includes Saturday’s game in teal uniforms for their “Strike Out Ovarian Cancer” promotion.
“They’re excited about playing Kentucky and all the events this weekend,” Torina said. “We were low-energy coming off a road trip but with an off day, they’ll be fine.
“Kentucky is always well-prepared, staff always does a good job getting them ready. They’re intelligent and knowledgeable. Hopefully we can have a good plan for our offense to continue attacking like they have every SEC series.”
Sanchez leads the SEC’s top offense with a .471 batting average. Leadoff hitter Aliyah Andrews leads the SEC in runs scored (54) and is tied for the lead in hits (57). Shelbi Sunseri and Shemiah Sanchez are tied for the team lead in homers (13) while Sunseri is second in the SEC with 50 RBIs.
Sunseri, who is batting .404 and has an 8-5 record in the circle, rested from Tuesday’s game after 41 consecutive starts. Torina said she’s like to see some improvement in her pitching rotation against Kentucky.
“The pitching staff has to limit their mistakes, and do a better job attacking people with their best stuff,” she said.
Maribeth Gorsuch (10-0, 1.97 ERA) and Shelby Wickersham (9-1, 1.94) are the Tigers’ top pitchers.
Kentucky is in the middle of the pack in the SEC standings but has the fourth-best team batting average (.321). Utility player Abbey Cheek is the league’s top hitter (.495) with 15 homers and 42 RBIs. Earlier this season, she broke the Kentucky school record for home runs and now has 56 in her career.
Autumn Humes is the Wildcats’ top pitcher with a 9-6 record and 4.37 ERA.
The Strikeout Ovarian Cancer game will include a walk Saturday morning, beginning and ending at Tiger Park, to raise awareness for the disease. Sunday is the Bark at the Park game; fans can bring their dogs and receive a $2 ticket.