Briggs helps spark LSU rally with bases-loaded triple, Chaffin adds light’s out relief in 7-3 win

LSU's Ciara Briggs is the team's top hitter at .451 going into this weekend's Judi Garman Classic. PHOTO BY: LSU athletics.

LSU center fielder Ciara Briggs had gone hitless with the bases loaded in six previous plate appearances this season.

She atoned that dubious statistic with one swing of the bat.

Briggs unloaded the bases with a triple to left field that snapped a 3-all tie in the bottom of the fifth inning and freshman Raelin Chaffin tossed 4.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, leading No. 21 LSU past South Carolina, 7-3, and won the Southeastern Conference series Friday.

“There are some days you just see the ball bigger, and I saw that one big and took my hack and it worked out for me in the end,” Briggs said. “Like I said, we put in the preparation, and it helped me out in the long run.” 

The Tigers (26-16, 7-7 in SEC) will go for their first three-game SEC sweep against Gamecocks (23-20, 2-12) at noon Saturday. The game will be televised by the SEC Network and broadcast locally over 107.3-FM.

LSU trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth when the Tigers scored two runs and took the lead for good with three more in the fifth.

LSU got a run against relief pitcher Skylar Trahan when Ali Newland was hit by a one-out pitch, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on an infield fielding error off the bat of Raeleen Gutierrez. The Tigers then loaded the bases when Morgan Cummins singled off reliever Sarah Oh, Gutierrez advanced to third on a wild pitch and Danieca Coffey walked on four pitches.

Briggs (2-for-3) worked the count to 1-2 when the left-hander drove the next pitch from Oh over the head of a drifting left fielder Katie Prebble who had her back to the infield trying to make an over-the-shoulder grab. The ball caromed off the webbing of her glove, clearing the bases for a 7-3 lead.

“I think that was the story of the game early on,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said of her team’s leaving runners on base. “We had a lot of runners left on base to start, but in the back half we only had 2. Capitalizing on opportunities and some of their mistakes and things that were given is what gave us the lead.”   

LSU, which improved its hit total from 2 to 10 against USC pitching, took advantage of a little-known rule against the Gamecocks in the fourth and scored two keys runs in the inning.

Coffey (2-for-3) doubled off the wall in left-center field and drove in pinch-hitter Savannah Stewart who singled. USC made a change to Trahan when starter Bailey Betenbaugh developed lower-back pain and had to leave the game.

The Tigers made it 3-2 when Taylor Pleasants fouled out but because the momentum of USC third baseman Zoe Laneaux carried her into her own dugout to record the out in an out-of-bounds area, Coffey was awarded home plate following a video review.

Chaffin (4-2) took over for starter Shelby Wickersham (2.1 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs) and faced two over the minimum batters, allowing only one hit and striking out seven. LSU committed an error behind Chaffin in the fourth and Maddie Gallagher singled in the fifth, but the Gamecocks never got a runner past second base and were retired in order over the final two innings.

“Their weaknesses were my strengths, so that’s always good as a pitcher when your best stuff is what they are the worst at,” Chaffin said. “That’s why I was getting in my groove because I knew that was my best stuff.” 

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William Weathers

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