The No. 2 Tennessee (31-3, 8-1 SEC) softball team will experience a blast from the past in some ways when it faces off against LSU (20-15, 2-7) at Tiger Park in a three-game series this weekend.
The Tigers utilize the batting technique of "slapping," or hit-and-run, which UT used in previous seasons.
The shift to a power-hitting style this season has the Lady Vols looking to their former players in preparation for their trip to Baton Rouge, La., which will be their first meeting since 2012.
"LSU has three really fast slappers in their lineup, kind of reminiscent of the old Tennessee teams," co-head coach Karen Weekly said at Wednesday's media availability. "We've been working very hard on defending the slap in the last two days, which is a little tough for us because we don't have that look in our offense, so we don't get to play against that every day.
"Fortunately, Raven Chavanne has come out and helped us with that here a little bit here this week."
The Tigers have used their slap style to play the role of giant killer several times this season already, defeating three top-15 teams, including No. 9 Washington and No. 7 Florida.
However, LSU has faced nine current or former top-25 teams this season, creating the false illusion of an unimpressive record, Weekly said.
"They've played the toughest schedule of anybody in the SEC so far when you look at what they've done non-conference, going and playing Oklahoma last weekend in their open weekend," Weekly said. "So they're not a 20-15 team. They're a much better team than that."
LSU is coming into the weekend after losing five of its last six games, with all five losses coming to No. 15 Oklahoma and No. 4 Alabama.
"I think I'd much rather be going in and facing a team that had won five of six than a team that had lost five out of six and is coming back to Tiger Park," Weekly said, "and you know that they're going to be wanting to put some wins on the board."
On the other hand, the Lady Vols have won their last eight games, including two sweeps of SEC foes Florida and South Carolina.
Despite the contrast between their recent records, senior pitcher Ellen Renfroe is remaining cautious about her opponent.
"No matter where you are ranked, there is always going to be someone who can beat you," Renfroe said. "We're going to have to bring it. I don't think that we are going to have to step up any more than we have been just to beat LSU."
Tennessee owns a 25-20-1 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams and has won the last seven matchups. However, the Lady Vols have a losing record when playing LSU on the road (10-11-1).
The series will begin Friday at 7 p.m. with the second game at the same time on Saturday and will wrap up at 2 p.m. on Sunday.