The LSU softball team is returning home for the LSU Invitational after an up-and-down visit to Florida last week.
The Tigers defeated Oklahoma State, Texas and Ohio State but suffered losses to Oregon and Florida State at the St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational. Though they didn't win every game, they used the weekend as an opportunity to measure themselves against some of the nation's best teams.
“I think it showed us where we are and what work we can put in now in practice. ... What we know we are already good at, so we can focus on the things to fine-tune a little bit,” freshman pitcher Shelby Wickersham said.
While games still do matter this early in the season, LSU assistant coach Howard Dobson said losses to championship-level teams aren't catastrophic. Right now, it's more about getting better, both individually and as team.
LSU will face Stanford, Memphis, Michigan and CSUN in Tiger Park this weekend. Though it’s not the same nationally ranked slate as the previous weekend, LSU is treating the games all the same.
The Tigers welcome Stanford, Memphis, Michigan and Cal State Northridge, playing five games in all between Thursday and Sunday.
LSU begins with Stanford at 6 p.m. Thursday at Tiger Park.
“I think it’ll be a great challenge for us,” Wickersham said. “I think going into the weekend, we’re going to really work hard. Every team is a challenge and shouldn’t be taken lightly. One of our focuses this year is going into every game with the same mindset.”
LSU’s young pitching staff especially struggled last weekend, giving up 17 runs in its two combined losses to No. 1 Florida State and No. 19 Oregon.
Wickersham said the young pitchers complement each other, and they’ll get better with experience. Location and movement on pitches are the biggest improvements they can make going forward. As time goes on, it’ll get easier for the young pitchers to stay consistent.
“Sometimes they get away with things,” Dobson said. “But when you face better teams offensively, (you) don’t get away with those pitches. So now we know a little more (about the pitchers).”
On the opposite end, Dobson expects the lineup to produce runs from top to bottom and help out the pitching staff.
LSU has outscored opponents 96-23 after 11 games, and the Tigers hope to carry that power throughout the weekend.
“It’s pressure we put on ourselves to try to be the best that we can be,” Dobson said. “We don’t try to compete with anybody else besides ourselves, to try to be the best version of ourselves offensively.”