No. 15 LSU registers doubleheader sweep to capture road series with North Carolina State

LSU sophomore Ciara Briggs was second on the 2021 team with a .339 batting average and was one of three players to start in all 57 of the team's games.

After a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning provided the difference in Saturday’s opener, No. 15 LSU didn’t need such theatrics in the nightcap at North Carolina State.

The Tigers swapped leads with the homestanding Wolfpack before taking the lead for good with two runs in the third and steadily pulled away for a 13-2 run-rule victory in six innings.

“I think it’s fun to have a day like this because you get to see a lot of different people contribute,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said. “Lot of people throughout the lineup, different pitchers on the mound and a lot of people contributed to the success of the team today. I think Aliyah Andrews was big in this game. Ciara Briggs was incredible all weekend long and that’s two weekends in a row where she has carried us. It’s cool to see her do the little things. Taking an extra base here, dropping a bunt there as well as the big swings. It’s the little things that make as big a difference as the big swings.”

LSU (26-14) swept the non-conference doubleheader with North Carolina State (22-13) by opening the day with a 2-1 victory, the winning run coming on a solo homer from second baseman Taylor Tidwell.

The Tigers will have the upcoming week off and return to Southeastern Conference action with a trip to Kentucky for a three-game series beginning Friday.

Winning pitcher Ali Kilponen (11-5) was also in charge, shutting out N.C. State after the first inning and allowed two hits. She walked two and struck out eight.

LSU 13, N.C. State 2: The Tigers, who had 10 hits, scored in every inning after the first.

Lead-off hitter Aliyah Andrews went 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs, shortstop Taylor Pleasants drove in four runs, Ciara Briggs (2-3) and Raeleen Gutierrez (2-4) each homered and combined to drive in three runs.

Winning pitcher Shelby Wickersham (5-3) allowed two runs in the second inning and kept N.C. State scoreless the rest of the way. That included getting out a jam in the fourth with a ground ball to Pleasants with the bases loaded and Tigers leading 6-2.

Wickersham walked four and struck out four.

Gutierrez homered in the second and LSU took the lead for good an inning later on Briggs’ two-run homer with Andrews aboard.

LSU atoned for a 3-1 defeat on Friday in which Louisiana native Abby Trahan of Kaplan limited the Tigers to three hits in a complete-game victory. The Tigers picked up three runs on four hits in two innings against Trahan, the losing pitcher.

LSU made it 6-2 on a pair of bases-loaded walks to Andrews and Briggs and Pleasants forced in a run with an RBI-groundout.

Pleasants busted the game open in the fifth with her first hit of the series, smacking an 0-2 pitch with the bases loaded to the fence in right-center to clear the bases for a 9-2 lead.

The Tigers invoked the mercy rule with four runs in the sixth inning.

Danieca Coffey, filling in for an injured Amanda Doyle at third base, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Andrews sent a shot past the shortstop that rolled to the fence in left-center field and the Tigers added an unearned run.

LSU 2, N.C. State 1: Gutierrez gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the first with a sacrifice fly to left, only to have the Wolfpack answer in the bottom half of the inning with a sacrifice fly of their own.

LSU struggled to generate additional offense against N.C. State starter Estelle Czech, who didn’t allow a base runner past second base between the fourth through the sixth until Tidwell led off the seventh with her fourth homer of the year – taking a 2-1 pitch over fence in right field.

Kilponen, who threw 116 pitches, worked out of a jam in the fourth after N.C. State had a pair of singles, but she responded with a strikeout and fly out to end the threat.

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William Weathers

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