The LSU softball team used masterful pitching performances in College Station to punch its first ticket to the Super Regionals since 2007. In three games, the Tigers’ staff allowed just one run on seven hits en route to defeating Texas State and eighth-seeded Texas A&M to win their Regional.
The Tigers now travel to Columbia, Missouri as something of a welcoming committee for future SEC foe Missouri in a best-of-three series with a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line. Game times were announced Monday, and LSU will open its bid to reach Oklahoma City on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
After an up-and-down season that saw the Tigers of Baton Rouge roll off a 12-game win streak, but also end the conference regular season with a 5-12 performance, the upset in College Station is a bit unexpected under first-year coach Beth Torina. Here’s a look at what the Lady Tigers face against the ladies of Missouri.
MU vs. LSU Pitching
Missouri is coached by Ehren Earleywine. The Tigers finished the season in second place in the Big 12 with a record of 46-12, 17-7 in conference play. Like LSU, Mizzou uses dominant pitching to win games, posting a 1.47 staff ERA – seventh-best in the country. Chelsea Thomas is their ace pitcher with a 1.00 ERA, allowing only 30 earned runs in 211 innings pitched, with 290 strikeouts. Thomas was the top pitcher in the Big 12 this year.
LSU enters the weekend’s match up with a 1.52 ERA (12th best in Division I). Rachele Fico and Brittany Mack are the leaders in the circle for the Bayou Bengals. Fico has the second-best ERA in the country at 0.97 and picked up two wins during Regional play.
MU vs. LSU Hitting
Missouri is paced at the plate by Ashley Fleming and her 16 homeruns on the year. Fleming also boasts a .377 batting average. Missouri, though, has a team batting average of .270. The Tiger offense was stalled in the middle of the pack in conference play, and the team depended on its pitchers to limit opponents’ offensive capabilities.
LSU is in much the same boat. As a team the Tigers are only hitting .222 on the season. LSU is led at the plate by Ashley Langoni with a .270 average, 6 homeruns, and 29 runs batted in. If LSU has any hope of making it to Oklahoma City, they will have to get it done in the circle.
Ultimately, Missouri and LSU look like carbon copies of each other. Pitching is the key to each team’s success. It will come down to which staff has the better performance with a berth in the WCWS on the line. If LSU lets Missouri get on base and score runs, it could be a quick weekend for the Bayou Bengals. But if Fico and Mack can turn in the kind of performances they managed last weekend in the College Station regional, LSU could see its first appearance in the WCWS since 2004.
It should be an exciting match up in Columbia. The first game starts at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Game 2 will be Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with game 3 scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Sunday if necessary. All games will be shown on ESPNU.