(5) LSU prepping for second go round for (12) Kentucky in Super Regional
Baton Rouge - For the second time this season, LSU and Kentucky do battle inside Alex Box Stadium but this series has a little bit more on the line. The right to go to the College World Series. LSU is in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight season and for the 35th time overall, trying to add a 7th national title to their resume. They are a Top 8 National Seed this season (No. 5) for the first time since the 2017 Tigers were the No. 4 National Seed.
The championship pedigree of LSU is with this 2023 team heading into this weekend as head coach Jay Johnson knows that sometimes success means imitating those who came before.
“If you want to do something great, you have to emulate people that have been great. The national championship teams here at LSU cared more about the team than about individual achievements. All year, we’ve told our players that if you can emulate those great teams, you will have success. I don’t know if we will accomplish what those great teams of the past did, but our players have displayed the same type of characteristics that those teams did to give us a chance at competing at the highest level. As a coach, that definitely makes me proud.”
LSU enters the NCAA Super Regional with a 46-15 record, its best mark through 61 games since the 2015 Tigers were 51-10. LSU last weekend won the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional with consecutive victories over Tulane and Oregon State twice.
They enter the NCAA Super Regional near the top of several NCAA statistical categories, No. 2 in the nation in shutouts pitched (9); No. 2 in on-base percentage (.438); No. 2 in slugging percentage (.566); No. 3 in strikeouts pitched per nine innings (11.7); No. 3 in home runs (126); No. 4 in hit-by-pitch (126); No. 4 in scoring average (9.3 runs per game); No. 5 in runs scored (566); No. 7 in hits allowed per nine innings (7.73); and No. 8 in walks received (357).
Centerfielder Dylan Crews is No. 2 in the nation in on-base percentage (.573); No. 2 in runs scored (87); No. 3 in batting average (.432) and No. 5 in walks (61). Third baseman Tommy White is No. 3 in the nation in RBI per game (1.66), and he is No. 3 in the nation in total RBI (93)
Tigers can pitch it a little bit too. Right-hander Paul Skenes is No. 1 in the nation in strikeouts (179), strikeouts per nine innings (16.22); and WHIP (0.79). He is No.3 in the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.53), No. 4 in ERA (1.90) and No. 6 in hits allowed per nine innings (5.53).
As for Kentucky, the Wildcats are hitting .293 as a team with 51 home runs and 91 stolen bases in 120 attempts. They lead the nation with a .984 fielding percentage, having committed only 34 errors all season.
Pitching also the strength at the moment with this team. The pitching staff has a 4.17 cumulative ERA, which ranks No. 3 in the SEC; UK has recorded 521 strikeouts in 509.1 innings.
UK is led at the plate by first baseman Hunter Gilliam, who is hitting .324 with 13 doubles, 12 homers and 71 RBI this season. Catcher Devin Burkes is batting .298 with eight homers and 52 RBI; infielder Emilien Pitre is batting .322 with 16 doubles and 51 RBI.
LSU took two out of three during their regular a season series. Game one of their super regional will be Saturday at 2 PM. You can watch the game on ESPN. Times for Sunday and the if necessary Monday game 3 have yet to be determined.
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