Against the fifth-ranked team in the country on the road, a six-run deficit for LSU’s softball team proved insurmountable.
Although the No. 11 Tigers closed to within two runs in the top of the fourth, Florida added another run and got three innings of scoreless relief from Natalie Lugo for a 7-4 victory Saturday to take the second game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series in Gainesville, Fla.
The series finale is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday.
Florida (23-3, 7-1 in SEC) knocked LSU starter Ali Kilponen out of the first inning with a pair of two-run homers from Kendyl Lindaman and Jaimie Hoover to take a commanding four-run lead.
Kilponen (5-4) was saddled with all four runs (all earned) in two-thirds of an inning before Shelby Wickersham came on and allowed single runs in both the second and third innings.
LSU’s pitching, which included 1.2 innings of relief from Maribeth Gorsuch, allowed seven runs on 12 hits, walked five and hit a batter.
LSU (18-10, 4-4), which was shutout in Friday’s 5-0 loss, battled back in the fourth against Florida’s starting pitcher Katie Chronister, a senior left-hander making her first career SEC start.
The Tigers sent nine batters to the plate, scoring four times on five hits to knock Chronister out of the game in favor of Lugo with an out in the fourth.
Georgia Clark’s RBI-groundout put LSU on the scoreboard for the first time in the series and designated player Shelbi Sunseri doubled home a pair of runs. Second baseman Danieca Coffey, one of two players (the other being Taylor Pleasants) with two hits, delivered an RBI-single to left field.
That’s as close as LSU could get. The Tigers, who finished with eight hits, managed three hits and were held scoreless by Lugo over the final three innings of the game.
“I thought our team battled in the fourth inning and was able to come through and score some runs to get us back within striking distance,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said. “But we just couldn’t seem to finish the job tonight.”
Florida added a run in the fifth to account for the final score on a single off Gorsuch, but the Tigers were able to turn in the defensive play of the game.
Left fielder Karrington Houshmandzadeh was able to retrieve the ball up against the wall, fired to shortstop Taylor Pleasants whose relay to catcher Cait Calland was in time to tag out Florida’s pinch-runner Katie Kisler for the final out of the inning.
Wickersham worked 3.2 innings, allowed eight hits, two runs (both earned) with four walks and four strikeouts.