STARKVILLE, Miss. - The No. 12 LSU softball team concludes its 13-game road trip and travels to Mississippi State for a three-game weekend series to open SEC action. Game times are set for Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
All three games of the series will have a live audio webcast available for Geaux Zone subscribers at LSUsports.net/live and live stats also will be available at www.LSUsports.net/livestats.
LSU (17-4, 0-0 SEC) is coming off a 3-2 weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The Tigers defeated No. 14 Michigan, Penn State and Syracuse, while dropping decisions to No. 10 Oregon and No. 15 Louisville.
Mississippi State (15-4, 0-0 SEC) enters SEC opening weekend on a league-best nine-game winning streak, most recently an 8-1 victory over Memphis on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs are fueled by Alison Owen in the circle, the reigning two-time SEC Pitcher of the Week. She has posted a 9-1 mark, 0.44 ERA and limited opponents to a .092 hitting clip. The junior right-hander also has amassed 93 strikeouts against two walks in her 63.0 innings of work.
Offensively, MSU is being led by Sam Lenahan's .383 batting average, five home runs and 18 RBIs. Logan Foulks also has tallied a .357 hitting clip, five homers and 13 RBIs.
"Mississippi State has had a very good season, and they have performed really well against the opponents that they have played," head coach Beth Torina said. "We know we will have our work cut out for us, and we are expecting a battle without question. This week in practice, we've been focusing on our strengths. Our goal is to be the absolute best LSU team we can be."
Allison Falcon has racked up a team-leading 27 hits en route to a .409 batting average and picked up LSWA Hitter of the Week honors. She has produced four straight multi-hit efforts and is one of five players to collect double digit RBIs on the season.
"The slappers at the top (Andrews and Blades) have really been the story for us," Torina said. "They have really made things happen for us. They put so much pressure on defenses, and they've been setting the table for the middle of our lineup. We have a pretty tough 1-2 punch in the beginning, and I really think they are the unsung heroes."
The Tigers also have received multiple home runs and double figure RBIs from Bianka Bell, Kellsi Kloss, Sandra Simmons and Tammy Wray. Kloss came away with a six-RBI performance to spark LSU's 14-6 victory over No. 14 Michigan on Saturday.
LSU's pitching staff is headed by Rachele Fico, who has compiled a 10-3 mark on the season. She has registered 97 strikeouts over 76.0 innings and fired six shutouts. The senior right-hander will look to bounce back from a 1-2 record at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Ashley Czechner has emerged with wins in her first four decisions with the Tigers. She notched a relief win over Syracuse and turned in a complete game effort versus Penn State a weekend ago.
Meghan Patterson has secured a 3-1 record with a staff-low 1.77 ERA. During non-conference action, the junior right-hander tossed a pair of shutouts against Purdue and Nicholls State.
"It was a long month, and it has been a grind heading into SEC play," Torina said. "Ultimately, we are in a pretty good spot at the end of it but still have a lot to learn. I think we have been a little bit inconsistent. I think we've shown we can have a great offense, great pitching and solid defense. Our whole key is just putting it all together on the same day at the same time and consistently doing that each game for the rest of the year."
Fans can follow every pitch of LSU softball via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsusoftball on Twitter.
LSU's next home game will be Wednesday, March 13 versus Nicholls State with a 6 p.m. first pitch. Tickets can be purchased online at www.LSUtix.net or on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Season tickets also are on-sale for $75 and additional ticket information is available at www.LSUtix.net.