SEC schedule begins, time for LSU’s slumbering bats to wake up

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

It might be a good time for LSU’s baseball team to nudge its bats out of a mild slumber.

It’s probably too soon to call it a bona fide slump, but there has been an offensive drop off in recent games as the defending national champion Tigers head to Starkville to open Southeastern Conference play tonight at Mississippi State.

LSU (16-2) apparently got its pitching situation fairly well figured out during the preconference schedule.

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Neither of the Tigers’ first two starters — right-hander Luke Holman (4-0), who pitches tonight, nor Gage Jump (2-0) on Saturday — has allowed a run in four starts apiece.

Holman is tied for the conference lead with 40 strikeouts and the staff’s 234 strikeouts also leads the league.

For the most part the bullpen has been effective.

But the bats might need to perk up with the step up in competition.

After a 19-hit onslaught against Texas State to complete a three-game sweep of the Astros Classic at Houston’s Minute Maid Park two weeks ago, the Tigers had a .336 team batting average with 18 home runs in their first 12 games.

Since then that average has dropped to .304. In the last six games they’re hitting .256 with three home runs.

Head coach Jay Johnson has tinkered with the lineup, mainly in the outfield where just about any combination of Brady Neal, Mac Bingham, Paxton Kling, Josh Pearson, Ethan Frey and Sulphur freshman Jake Brown are trying to separate themselves from the field.

Bingham replaced Kling in the leadoff spot of the order in Wednesday’s 7-0 win over North Dakota State and responded by reaching base three times, including a two-run homer.

But Johnson is happy to get the conference schedule underway.

“It’s a great opportunity for our team,” he said. “Mississippi State has a very talented club.”

The Bulldogs (13-5) got off to sluggish start but have won nine of their last 10 heading into LSU’s visit.

“It’s going to be a good series,” Johnson said. “I think Mississippi State is one of the most talented teams in college baseball.”

The Bulldogs are led by Dakota Jordan, who’s hitting .415 with nine home runs.

“Right now (Jordan) is hot as anybody in the country,” Johnson said. “It seems like every time I look up, he hits a homer. They have some very good players, and I really like the top of their order. They’re playing hard, and they’re playing with purpose.”