LSU softball players and coaches are adamant about the impact senior transfer third baseman Amanda Sanchez has had on the Tigers’ 2019 season.
It also shows up in the recent teamwide hitting slump.
Since going 5-for-10 with eight runs batted in at South Carolina, Sanchez has seen her batting average fall from .505 to .400. She has seven hits in her last 42 at-bats (.167) over those 16 games with one extra base hit.
Meanwhile the team batting average fell from .341 to .313 in that span and is partly responsible for the five-game losing streak the Tigers are riding going into the NCAA regional, which begins Friday at Tiger Park.
LSU (40-16) plays No. 4 seed Monmouth (36-16) at 4:30 p.m. No. 3 seed Louisiana Tech (44-14) plays No. 2 seed Texas Tech (39-14) at 2 p.m.
When LSU takes on the Hawks it will be their first game in a week after they bowed out of the SEC tournament in a 3-0 loss to Florida when Kelly Barnhill pitched a one-hitter. But with seven days off since then, LSU is trying to use the rest and extra practice time to get its offensive mojo back.
“Our team needs to play our game, get back to swinging big, being confident, doing the things we’ve done all year,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “We ran up against some of the best pitching in the country, not just the conference, going back to the Arkansas series.”
There’s no better time than now to reignite an offense that was the best in the conference for most of the season, and that starts with Sanchez. The Tigers are using the break to get refreshed and work on little things. Sanchez said she’s not worried and is making no major changes in her hitting approach.
“It’s important not to let outside things affect your game,” she said. “I think I’ve done that. Everyone goes through a slump. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to bat .500 the whole way. It’s impossible in a game of failure.
“I’m just trying not to get frustrated. Obviously, I am frustrated a little bit. Keeping that confidence, I know myself and what I have to do. I feel like it’s more mental than anything.”
Sanchez has at times dealt with back spasms which cost her at least one game this season. It’s a condition she’s dealt with her entire career and one she said she’s managed successfully.
Torina said she’s not worried about Sanchez’ downturn and reminded media that she’s still batting .400 while carrying a burden on offense.
“Out of our lineup, she’s the one that’s picked on, the one teams prepare for, the one they’re ready for,” Torina said. “She has the toughest job in our lineup and she’s done a great job in that spot. She’s still drawing walks, getting hits, and batting .400. That satisfies me as a coach.”
Sanchez said Torina and the coaching staff have been hands off as far as making suggestions. Torina did move Savannah Stewart from the No. 9 spot in the batting order to No. 2, dropping Sanchez to No. 3 for the final two games of the Alabama series.
“We haven’t talked about it too much,” Sanchez said. “What they have told me is don’t focus on the past month, focus on the big picture. I’ll keep that mindset. In the post season they wipe out the stats and you have a clean slate and go from there.”