LSU senior pitcher Maribeth Gorsuch said there wasn’t any correlation between her bullpen session on Wednesday before she went out Thursday and turned in her best outing of the season.
Gorsuch dominated ninth-ranked UL-Lafayette with a complete-game, two-hit shutout to lead No. 11 LSU to a 4-0 victory in the first game of the LSU/UL-Lafayette Invitational at Yvette Girouard Field at Lamson Park.
“It’s funny, my pre-game warm-up on Wednesday wasn’t the best,” Gorsuch said. “Today, I missed a few pitches. My goal was to not try to be perfect, just throw my pitches and trust my defense. I went in with a clear mindset. Some of my best games aren’t even my best warm-ups.”
Gorsuch (1-0) had a no-hitter through three innings, allowed a pair of singles in the fourth and sixth innings, but made key pitches to strand runners at third base in each instance. She finished with two walks and four strikeouts.
Freshman shortstop Taylor Pleasants and senior center fielder Aliyah Andrews both went 3-for-4 with doubles and Pleasants drove in a pair of runs. Designated player Shelbi Sunseri added a triple and left fielder Ciara Briggs a double in three plate appearances.
LSU (8-3) returns home Friday to host No. 10 Oklahoma State in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.
LSU will be doing so on the heels of its most complete performance of the year. The Tigers supported Gorsuch’s gem with nine hits, including four for extra bases, against UL-Lafayette all-American pitcher Summer Ellyson (3-1).
The Cajuns (6-1), who visit Tiger Park for a 4 p.m. rematch Sunday with the Tigers, had a 10-game win streak snapped dating back to last season.
“We’ve been looking for a game like this all season,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said. “We talk about the three aspects: hitting, pitching and defense. We say you have to have two of three.
“This is the first game where we’ve had all three show up on the same night. We did a lot of things really well, played solid defense, got a great performance on the mound and the offense was impressive against a talented pitcher.”
Gorsuch, the team’s lone senior pitcher, failed to get out of the fifth inning last week in her start against Liberty University. She allowed three runs on six hits and carried an uncharacteristically high ERA of 7.00 into the matchup with UL-Lafayette, a team batting .331 and averaging seven runs.
Gorsuch set UL-Lafayette down in order through the first three innings. She allowed her first two base runners of the game, issuing a one-out walk to Ciara Bryan and giving up an infield single by Justice Milz before getting Bailey Curry to bounce back to the circle for an inning-ending out.
With a 3-0 lead, Gorsuch passed her second major test of the game in the bottom of the sixth when UL-Lafayette’s first two batters reached safely on a bunt and throwing error.
The Ragin’ Cajuns twice sent the tying run to the plate in the inning, the first time Gorsuch got Julie Rawls to fly out to Briggs in left. She then coaxed Milz to bounce into a fielder’s choice with second baseman Taylor Tidwell throwing to Pleasants for the force at second.
“I wasn’t giving in or laying down and have them hit the ball,” said Gorsuch, who threw 60 of 96 pitches for strikes. “I had a relentless mindset. My team had been working hard all game and I knew they had my back. I didn’t press or try and throw too hard or try and put the ball in a perfect spot. I just let my stuff work.”
LSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Andrews led off with a bunt single and scored on Pleasants’ RBI-double to right-center field.
Ellyson silenced LSU until the fifth inning when the Tigers added some insurance with single runs in each of the final three innings in support of Gorsuch.
LSU scored an unearned run in the fourth when pinch-runner Anna Jones came home on a bunt single from Andrews that was inadvertently kicked by charging third baseman Jade Gorterez into shallow right field.
The Tigers made 3-0 in the sixth on Georgia Clark’s sacrifice fly to score Sunseri, who tripled to lead off the inning, and Pleasants capped her outing with an RBI-single that scored Andrews who delivered a two-out double.
“We had a little bit of a rocky weekend last weekend,” Gorsuch said. “My goal is to work for my team. I know they have my back; I know they work hard. It was definitely a good day and all around it was a great team win.”
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