It's softball time in the Bluegrass! Ok, that's not entirely accurate because a) the season started on 2/12 and b.) this weekend the Cats are in Baton Rouge, but as it's our first thread of the season I'm standing by my original statement.
For those of you who may have been focusing on basketball - which is 99.99% of ASoB - let's take a moment to get caught up on what's been going on since the Hittin' Kittens first took the field this spring.
- The Cats are currently ranked at #15 in the country and #3 in the SEC with their 31-8 overall record, and 8-4 record in the SEC. (Three of those losses were to #2 Auburn last week in Lexington.)
- The Cats have 3 wins over ranked teams, including #7 Oregon, #20 Notre Dame, #21 Arizona State, and 2 wins over teams that are looking to crawl into the top 25 in Utah and Ole Miss.
- These Kittens have definitely improved on the Hittin' part of their repertoire. Last season the Cats were averaging just .251, with only Nikki Saggerman hitting over .300. This season the Cats have improved their offense to .305 and have SIX players hitting over .300 and three averaging north of .350. That said, #7 Oregon currently leads at .373 and defending national champion Florida is at .321 so we have a long ways to go to catch up to the nation's best.
- The pitching duties no longer rest solely - or even mostly - on Kelsey Nunley's shoulders. Don't get me wrong, Kelsey is still doing amazing work - her ERA is 1.1, which is the 11th best in the country - but Meagan Prince is not too far behind at 1.7. Our overall ERA is 1.69 which is good enough for 6th best in the nation.
- We have two incredibly tricky base stealers. Sylver Samuel has stolen 16 of her 20 attempts so far this season, while Katie Reed is 9 for 11.
So what should we expect to see out of LSU this weekend? The Tigers have really effective hitters, with the team averaging .333 and three players over .350. Their defense has been holding opponents to at .223 and if that's all we can get this weekend? The Cats are in trouble. (We only had a combined 11 hits last weekend against Auburn, who hold their competition to .194, in case you wanted some info for comparison.)
Our keys to victory:
- As always, smart defense. Minimal errors, because LSU's offense will be giving us enough to deal with without shooting ourselves in the foot.
- Strong performance in the circle. Not entirely sure who will lead off this weekend but from what I've seen of Kelsey and Meagan this season, we look really good here.
- A bit of luck because road wins in the SEC are precious and rare.
This weekend's schedule is as follows.
- Today at 3 PM EDT on ESPN
- Sunday at 7 PM EDT on the SEC Network
- Monday at 7 PM EDT on the SEC Network
I hope you all are as excited as I am to see what the 2016 Hittin' Kittens can do this season. We have a large group of seniors who have made it clear they want to go out with another trip to OKC and the WCWS, and every win is critical to ensure they have a chance to host a super regional. (But you know, no pressure.)
Until gametime, Cat fans....GO BIG BLUE!