Softball enters road swing homestretch

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The eighth-ranked LSU softball team will close out a nine-game Southeastern Conference road swing with a mid-week three-game series at Mississippi State beginning Wednesday with a doubleheader at 5 p.m. at the Mississippi State Softball Field.

The Tigers (23-9, 4-4 SEC) are currently tied for second in the SEC Western Division behind Alabama. Mississippi State (23-12, 3-6 SEC) currently stands tied for fourth in the Western Division.


"This is a difficult week for us as part of a very difficult span in our schedule," said LSU head coach Yvette Girouard. "We played at nationally ranked South Carolina and then at nationally ranked Georgia and now at Mississippi State for a mid-week series.


Sophomore Leigh Ann Danos led the Tigers last week at the plate, going 5-for-11 (.455) with four doubles and a home run for a 1.091 slugging percentage. In LSU's amazing seventh-inning come-from-behind win over No. 11 Georgia, she doubled in the first two runs to cut the Bulldog lead to 4- as LSU went on to win 5-4. Danos also went 2-for-3 with three RBIs against Jackson State, just a triple shy of the cycle against the Lady Tigers.


The junior from Lafayette now leads the team with a .357 batting average for the season and is fourth in the league with a .690 slugging percentage. She also ranks second on the team with eight doubles and fourth with 13 RBIs.


Once again this season, the Tigers continue to dominate the SEC in the pitching statistics. Kristin Schmidt leads the Tigers in the circle. She has posted three no-hitters this season, including a no-no against Jackson State last week. The junior from Houston ranks second in the SEC in strikeouts and fourth in earned run average and wins.


Tessa Lynam has proven equally effective with an 11-1 record and two no-hitters. With a 1.48 ERA and 92 strikeouts, the sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga., ranks in the top 10 in the league in all three categories. She is also one of the Tigers top threats at the plate. With a .302 batting average, she has the second-most RBIs on the team with 16 and has recorded six doubles in just 17 games.


While LSU boasts one of the top pitching teams in the league, Mississippi State is one of the best hitting teams. The Bulldogs sport a .309 team average with a .474 team slugging percentage. Ranked third in the league at the plate overall, Mississippi State paces the conference in triples. They are led by junior All-American Iyhia McMichael with a .431 batting average and 34 RBIs.


"It will be crucial for us to play well," Girouard continued. "They are a very good hitting team. They may give up some runs, but they are capable of lighting up the scoreboard at any time. We will have to have all the components working for us, good defense, solid pitching and timely hitting, to be successful."


LSU is coming off its first conference series loss since 1998. The Tigers took one of three from No. 11 Georgia on the road last weekend. Mississippi State dropped a three-game series to Tennessee last weekend, getting run-ruled by the Lady Vols twice in Knoxville, Tenn.


This will be the 23rd meeting between the Tigers and the Bulldogs, with LSU holding the 20-2 series advantage. The Tigers had won 17 consecutive meetings prior to an 8-7 extra-inning loss in Baton Rouge last season. LSU has now won 10 straight in Starkville, dropping just the first meeting between the two teams in 1998.


The three-game series will conclude with a single game on Thursday beginning at 4 p.m. The Tigers will then return home for a crucial series with Western Division leader Alabama at Tiger Park this weekend. LSU will host the Crimson Tide in the three-game series beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. for "Pack the Park". Tickets for the doubleheader are available at area Winn Dixie stores as LSU hopes to break the regular season attendance record.

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