Fifth-ranked Florida sends No. 11 LSU softballers home with three straight losses

For the second time in three games at No. 5 Florida, 11th ranked LSU had a starting pitcher on Sunday unable to get out of the first inning. and subsequently added to the long weekend for the Tigers.

LSU fell behind by seven runs through the first three innings, lost 9-3 and suffered its first three-game Southeastern Conference softball sweep of the season in Gainesville, Fla.

The Tigers (18-11 overall, 4-5 SEC) were last swept in Gainesville in 2010. LSU’s current three-game losing streak is its longest of the season.

In its sweep, Florida (24-3, 8-1) outscored LSU 21-7 (including 15-0 in the first three innings) and outhit the Tigers 31-16. 

“It was good to see some fight in our team,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said. “We just need to adjust earlier in the game and quit digging ourselves into a hole. We will be glad to get back into Tiger Park this week and learn from this weekend.”

The Gators, which knocked LSU starter Ali Kilponen out of Friday’s opener after one-third of an inning, treated Sunday’s starter Maribeth Gorsuch just as rudely.

Gorsuch (2-1) lasted two-thirds of an inning, surrendering three runs on four hits with right fielder Baylee Goddard blooping a two-run single just inside the left-field line to make it 3-0.

Gorsuch, who threw 38 pitches before exiting, also walked three batters without a strikeout until Shelbi Sunseri entered the game and got out of a bases-loaded jam without further damage.

Sunseri walked in a run with the bases loaded in the third and center fielder Cheyenne Lindsey cleared the bases with a double to left field for a 7-0 advantage.

Florida’s Nos. 7-8-9 hitters were a combined 4 of 7, drove in eight runs with a pair of doubles and a homer.

LSU finally scored for the first time in 10 innings against Florida starter Elizabeth Hightower, who beat the Tigers, 5-0, on a three-hit shutout Friday.

Designated player Georgia Clark rifled a double off the glove of a diving Charla Echols at third base and down the left-field line to score Aliyah Andrews and Taylor Pleasants.

The Tigers, who had five hits led by Pleasants’ 2 of 3 showing, made it 7-3 with a run in the fifth on Sunseri’s RBI-groundout to score Ciara Briggs, who led off the inning with a triple.

Florida regained a 9-3 lead in the fifth on a double from shortstop Sarah Longley and Lindsey’s two-run homer, her first of the season to go with a season-high five RBIs.

Sunseri yielded six runs (all earned) on eighth hits, struck out five with four walks. She allowed 11 runs (all earned) on 15 hits in her two appearances in the series with five walks and eight strikeouts.

LSU returns to host UL-Monroe at 6 p.m. Tuesday and will be at home in SEC play with a three-game series with Ole Miss beginning Thursday at 6 p.m.   

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William Weathers

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