LSU softball edges out top seeded Tennessee to advance in SEC Tournament

LSU softball beat the No. 1 seeded Tennessee Volunteers to advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

After a six-hour rain delay, LSU softball stepped on the diamond and went right at the top seeded Volunteers to claim its second win of the SEC Tournament and advance to the semifinals.

Tennessee (40-10, 19-6 SEC) came into the game as the defending champs but scored just one run as the Tigers grabbed a 2-1 win.

Ali Newland and Taylor Pleasants were the difference makers on offense for LSU. They combined for three hits and the only two RBI of the game for LSU.

Kelley Lynch got the start for LSU and picked up right where she left off the last time she faced Tennessee. In the regular season, she pitched seven shutout innings and allowed just five hits. She added another four shutout innings before allowing a run to make it 11 total against the Vols this season.

LSU (40-14, 13-12 SEC) claimed the lead in the first inning thanks to Newland’s RBI single and wouldn’t let go of it for the rest of the game. The Tigers drew two straight walks to start the inning before a third walk loaded the bases with two outs gone.

Newland hit a ball that dropped not just behind second case and scored a runner, but a groundout from Maci Bergeron stranded three runners on base.

Tennessee got two runners on base in the second inning thanks to a walk and its first hit of the game. A fly out left the runners stranded though and kept the Tigers’ 1-0 lead intact.

Newland started the fourth inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout before Pickens was pulled from the game. Pickens allowed three hits, one runs and three walks in 3.1 innings pitched.

Payton Gottshall came in for Pickens and forced a foul out after a ten pitch at-bat and a fly out to end the inning and strand Newland at third.

LSU got two runners on base in the top of the fifth inning thanks to a walk and a single from Raeleen Gutierrez. Pleasants hit a single to center field that fell out of the center fielder’s mitt to score a runner and double the lead to 2-0. A strikeout ended the inning and limited the damage.

Lynch found herself in trouble for the first time in the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. She allowed a pair of singles to put runners on base before Sophia Nugent hit an RBI single to cut the deficit in half.

Lynch was pulled for Sydney Berzon who recorded a strikeout to end the inning. Lynch allowed five hits, one run and three walks while recording five strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched.

Pickens came back into the game for Gottshall in the sixth inning after sitting out the last couple innings. She inherited a runner on second base and one out and recorded a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.

LSU couldn’t add to its lead in the seventh inning and headed to the bottom of the frame needing three outs to advance to the semifinals. The Tigers got a flyout and a strikeout to send the Vols to their last out.

Berzon allowed a single in the next at-bat to extend the game and put the tying run on base. A ground out followed though to strand the runner and end the game.

It’s LSU’s first time making it to the SEC semifinals since 2017.

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Will Nickel

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