Junior Ali Kilponen threw her first career no-hitter lead No. 22 LSU run-ruled Nicholls State 12-0 Wednesday evening at Tiger Park.
Kilponen (10-4) struck out 11 of the 17 batters faced with just two walks. Her 11 strikeouts matched her season high. It was the 44th no-hitter in school history and 21st that was decided by a mercy rule.
“It is kind of a surreal moment,” Kilponen said. “It is something that I have worked for since I have been here and since I have become a pitcher. I just had to put trust in my coach, myself, and in my teammates. We had a really challenging weekend. Coach and I had a serious conversation on things to work on, so today I was working on different things, and it was cool to see it pay off.”
LSU was led by sophomore center fielder Ciara Briggs went 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored and two RBIs. Sophomore shortstop Taylor Pleasants also went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Sophomore Kennedi Houshmandzadeh led the team with three RBIs that included her first career home run, sophomore Ali Newland picked up two RBIs on two hits, and junior Georgia Clark also drove in two RBIs to bring her season total to 39.
LSU (21-10) opened the game with four runs on five hits in the first inning. Briggs got on base with a bunt single and raced to third base off a single from Pleasants. Clark followed with a double over the right fielder’s head to score Briggs for the first run of the game. Senior Shelbi Sunseri’s sacrifice fly brought Pleasants home, and freshman McKenzie Redoutey and Newland followed with a RBI single and RBI double, respectively to cap the first inning.
LSU kept the bats moving in the second frame as they scored seven runs highlighted by a three-run shot from Houshmandzadeh that put the Tigers up, 11-0. Briggs led off the third inning with her third single of the game and crossed home plate thanks to sophomore Raeleen Gutierrez’s RBI goundout to extend the Tigers’ lead, 12-0.
Kilponen closed the door by striking out the side in the top of the fifth inning and retired nine consecutive batters to seal the game.
“She decided that she was going to make some adjustments and executed a really good plan,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said of Kilponen. “Part of the adjustment was just being more aggressive. You saw that from her tonight, and she was rewarded.”
LSU travels to Fayetteville, Ark. To take on No. 10 Arkansas for a three-game series March 26-28.
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