No. 11 LSU Advances to Regional Championship, Downs Southern Illinois, 4-1

Shortstop Taylor Pleasants’ two-run homer set the tone offensively as No. 11 LSU downed Southern Illinois, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at Tiger Park.

LSU improves its record to 42-15, while Southern Illinois enters the loser’s bracket of the regional standing at 43-10. 

LSU advances to Championship Sunday with the victory, needing one win to claim the Baton Rouge Regional title. The Tigers’ opponent has yet to be determined, but the game will occur at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday on ESPN+. Game seven of the Baton Rouge Regional is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, if necessary, and will stream on ESPN+.

“I think Southern Illinois is everything they were built to be,” said Head Coach Beth Torina. “They’re a well-coached team. Both of their pitchers were tough. We knew we had a solid opponent, and our team played well against them. After the big swing from Taylor [Pleasants] in the first inning, I felt there was nothing that Sydney [Berzon] couldn’t get herself out of. 

Berzon (19-8) picked up the win, striking out eight batters with no walks while allowing one run on four hits in her 19th complete game this season.

“Giving Berzon a two-run lead from the beginning allowed her to pitch more freely,” said Coach Torina. “I thought she did a good job, and I never felt like it was in jeopardy, even with runners on base. I thought it was a solid performance from our team, and I’m excited to be moving on to Sunday.”

SIU’s Pitcher Maddia Groff (30-4) is charged with the loss after allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in 3.1 innings pitched. Groff finished the game with one strikeout. 

Pleasants went 1-for-2 at the plate, drew one walk, and had game-highs of two runs and RBIs, highlighted by her team-high ninth home run of the season. Six other Tigers recorded a hit, including outfielders Ciara Briggs and Ali Newland, who accounted for the other run-scoring plays.

LSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead through three frames thanks to a two-run shot to right center by Pleasants in the first inning and a run-scoring single by Newland in the third. 

The Tigers gave up their first run of the weekend after 12 consecutive shutout innings. SIU’s outfielder Elizabeth Warwick hit an RBI single in the sixth to cut into the deficit, 3-1. 

LSU added an insurance run off a Briggs’ sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to build the margin back to three runs, and Berzon and the LSU defense pieced together a 1-2-3 inning, highlighted with a pair of punchouts by Berzon to end the game.

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Tiger Rag News Services

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