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Can Vanderbilt Bounce Back Against LSU? A Q&A With And the Valley Shook

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Thursday went...poorly. Can Friday and Saturday be better?

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Vanderbilt baseball started its weekend series at LSU about as poorly as it could have. The Commodores trailed 9-0 after three innings and saw ace Jordan Sheffield get shelled en route to a 13-4 defeat.

So can the 'Dores come back? To better understand what Vandy is walking into on Friday, we consulted with an expert. PodKATT runs And the Valley Shook, the nation's premiere site for LSU news and tailgating recipes. Here's what the AoG friend, rival, and confidant had to say about his team's chances for a series win in Baton Rouge.

1. How would you describe the difference between LSU's team this year compared to previous teams recently who have gone on to win the SEC Tournament and CWS?

Youth. LSU lost so much to the draft and graduation after last season that it's basically an entirely new lineup. Coach Mainieri is still trying to figure out which pieces fit best where and there have been some growing pains. It would seem after last weekend's series win at Auburn that things are finally starting to mesh for LSU, which couldn't come at a better time as the schedule ramps up in difficulty.

2. LSU is known for several standout players turning into top prospects for MLB clubs after the draft. Who on this team would you suspect to be a surprise standout from this upcoming draft?

I'm not seeing a 2016 first rounder on the team this year, though Lange could certainly pull that next season when he's eligible. LHP Jarde Poche and SS Kramer Robertson I can see declaring and being mid round guys. He wont go high because he's a SR, but transfer LHP John Valek III has been a surprisingly steady hand who I can see being a real steal for the right club.

3.a. LSU has always been a power-house at the plate with top pitching. What would you think could cause the offensive output to be a little slim so far this season?

With so many guys being in the lineup regularly for the 1st time in their careers, it's hard to say if it's just them needing time to adjust to SEC pitching or something else. I'm no coach, but I've got a theory. LSU has the fewest strikeouts as a team in the SEC and I think it's actually a bad thing for this team. The players are so keyed in to avoid a K that they'll swing at bad pitches they shouldn't, resulting in easy ground balls and pop flys that kill momentum every inning. Things seem to have turned around on that last weekend, but we'll have to see how it continues against Vandy's much superior pitching

b. Do you think the lineup might be getting back to the power-house batting they should be, or do you think a lot of that had to do with playing against Auburn and the tiny center field?

Normally I would agree with you, but there was only one time last weekend where we really took advantage of having a ball pinball around in that corner for what ended up as a triple. LSU had 3 HR balls clear that giant wall in left, 2 of them by a great distance. The rest of the offensive output was fairly pedestrian stuff of just getting balls down and into the gap.

4. How do you think LSU will fare against Jordan Sheffield and the rest of Vanderbilt's pitching staff this weekend? (Note: This question was answered on Thursday before LSU hung nine runs on Sheffield in a 13-4 win)

I think the Vandy series is going to be a great barometer for seeing how LSU has progressed so far this season. To be honest, I'm not expecting a series win, but a respectable showing at the plate against one of the best pitching staffs in the nation will go a long way to easing some fears in this fan base about the season. And who knows, maybe LSU can use some of that patented Alex Box magic to steal a game or two late and come away with an impressive series win.