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Previewing The Baton Rouge Regional: LSU

(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

 

The Baton Rouge, La. softball regional gets underway on Friday at Tiger Park, with four teams vying for a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, making their 19th-consecutive regional appearance, will be part of a field that also includes the LSU Tigers, the top-seed in the regional, and the #13-overall seed, along with the McNeese St. Cowgirls and the Fairfield Stags in the double-elimination event.

Louisiana will take on McNeese St. in the first game of the regional, on Friday at 3 pm, followed by a match-up pitting LSU and Farifield at 5:30 pm.

On Tuesday, we took a closer look at the Fairfield Stags.

Yesterday, we got to know the McNeese St. Cowgirls a little bit better.

Today, we preview the LSU Tigers:

Making their 19th NCAA Tournament appearance, LSU will also be taking part in their 12th-consecutive regional.

The Tigers, who enter the regional as the top-seed, and the 13th-overall seed, has qualified for the Women’s College World Series 5 times I program history, including the last two years.

The Cajuns have won 5-consecutive games against LSU, all in the postseason, while winning the Baton Rouge Regional the last three times they’ve traveled there (2008, 2010, 2013).

LSU will enter the regional at 41-18, overall, including a 12-12 SEC mark.

The Tigers have an outstanding program. They have won five SEC regular season championships, and five postseason SEC Tournament titles, more than any school in the SEC, while posting 50 wins in 11 different seasons.

Just last season, LSU finished 3rd in the Women’s College World Series, the fourth time they accomplished that feat.

Beth Torina, who coached against the Cajuns during her tenure at FIU, is in her 7th season at LSU, accumulating an overall record of 265-115.

Torina follows previous LSU head coaches Cathy Compton (1997-1998), Glenn Moore (1998-2000), and former Louisiana coach Yvette Girouard (2001-2011).

It should also be pointed out that Carol Smith also coached at LSU, from 1979-1981, before the school dropped the program for 15 years.

From an offensive standpoint, LSU doesn’t have the power that they had last year, with the exits of Bianka Bell, Kellsi Koss, and Sandra Simmons, who combined for 30 home runs last season.

As a matter of fact, LSU only has 32 long balls this season, which ranks third in the regional, behind Louisiana (83) and McNeese St. (50).

The Tigers do have the capability to hit for some power, however. Freshman Sydney Springfield leads the team with 9 homers, with catcher Sahvanna Janquish right behind, with 8, after hitting 13, to go along with 73 runs batted in last season.

Janquish, who is hitting a .343, has 5 less homers, and also 23 fewer RBI’s, as compared to last season, but she is LSU’s biggest offensive threat.

A big part of the reason the power numbers for Janquish has been down is for the simple fact that teams just simply haven’t pitched to her. This season, she has drawn 60 walks, while sporting a .548 on-base percentage.

A senior from Highland, California, Janquish is a two-time All-SEC pick, and a third-team NFCA All-American a year ago. She is capable of carrying the LSU offense over the weekend.

The leading hitter for the Tigers is senior outfielder Bailey Landry, a first-team All-SEC pick, who enters the regional batting an impressive .431.

Offensively, LSU makes contact, striking out less than 200 times as a team all season, and plays superb small ball.

Pitching-wise, the Tigers are outstanding.

Junior right-hander Allie Walljasper is the ace. A second-team All-SEC selection, Walljasper is 16-4 with a 1.21 ERA.

Walljasper keeps the ball in the park and throws strikes, allowing only one home run all season, while walking only 21 hitters over 133.1 innings.

But LSU’s pitching staff goes even deeper, with junior right-hander Carley Hoover, who is 11-6 with a stellar 1.06 ERA., and sophomore right-hander Sydney Smith, who is 11-7 with a 2.20 ERA.

The Tigers have a stable of talented arms that are capable of pitching them into yet another WCWS.

If LSU wins the regional this weekend, it’s likely going to be because of their pitching.

LSU did play well in the SEC Tournament, reaching the finals, before falling to Ole Miss, 5-1, but they really didn’t finish the year all that strong, going 7-10 over their final 17 regular season contests.

If LSU plays the way they did over those 17 games, they’re going to be susceptible. If they play the way they did over their first 38 games, when they started 31-7, they’re going to be hard to beat.

The complete regional schedule is below:

NCAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 19, 2017
G1: 3 p.m. – McNeese vs. Louisiana
G2: 5:30 p.m. – Fairfield vs. LSU

Saturday, May 20, 2017
G3: 12 p.m. – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
G4: 2:30 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
G5: 5 p.m. – Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3

Sunday, May 21, 2017
G6: 1:30 p.m. – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
G7: 4 p.m. – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6

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