With an impending 10-game road swing starting Friday, the No. 15 LSU softball team decided to give their fans an impressive send off.
They won’t see them again until May 1.
LSU twice rallied from deficits in the second and fifth innings, scoring three runs in the sixth inning to take the lead and grab a 6-4 victory Tuesday over Louisiana Tech at Tiger Park.
The Tigers, who defeated the Bulldogs for the 20th straight time, open a three-game SEC series Friday at No. 19 Missouri, visit McNeese State (April 13), travel for a three-game series against North Carolina State (April 16-17) and conclude the stretch with three games at Kentucky (April 23-25).
“Lot of things were unplanned,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said of this year’s schedule. “We’ll make the best of it.”
LSU (22-12) wound up with eight hits, including three in the go-ahead sixth inning where before that frame, the Tigers had dealt with the misfortunate of hitting into three double plays.
After entering the game as a pinch-runner in the fourth inning, Morgan Cummins stayed in the game to catch and returned to batting order where she hadn’t appeared since the first game of the Ole Miss series last Thursday.
Cummins drew a one-out walk, helping to spark LSU’s biggest inning of the game where Ciara Briggs singled and the Tigers took their first lead since 1-0, when lead-off hitter Aliyah Andrews tripled in a pair of runs.
Second baseman Danieca Coffey followed with a run-scoring double off La. Tech’s losing pitcher Audrey Pickett (4-7).
“That was a huge moment,” Torina said of the walk by Cummins. “The fact that she was able to draw the walk coming off the bench and get us going was a really big moment for us. She’s one of the best catchers in the country. I believe in her wholeheartedly. She just has to get going the same way a bunch of our others have to.”
LSU got five of its hits from its first two batters with Andrews and Coffey, who was moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, were going 3 for 4 and 2 for 4, respectively.
“I was proud of the leadership of Aliyah Andrews,” Torina said. “There was a time where I asked somebody to step up and lead the offense and she definitely was our leader tonight. She’s a leader for us so many days and does so many special things. In a moment where we needed her to be that it was awesome. She was able to come through.”
Sophomore Ali Kilponen was LSU’s third pitcher of the game after Maribeth Gorsuch started and lasted 1.2 innings with Shelby Wickersham providing 2.2 innings of relief. The Tigers pitching combined to allow six hits, two walks, hit four batters and five strikeouts.
Kilponen (8-4) picked up the win with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. She walked one and struck out four, including the final two outs of the game.
“It crossed my mind to get the three of them some work,” Torina said of her pitchers. “But I played them honestly because we needed them at the time. It wasn’t something that was pre-planned. We needed to get out of some situations.”
LSU scored once in the first on Taylor Pleasants’ RBI-groundout when Louisiana Tech (13-15) took a 3-1 lead in the top of the second with three runs on four hits after two were out.
That signaled the end of the game for Gorsuch who yielded three runs on five hits in 1.2 innings of work.
LSU tied the game with two runs in the third on Coffey’s two-run double to center field after Briggs and Andrews had each singled.
“If she’s not on base, then I’m trying to be the second lead off and get on base,” Coffey said of Andrews. “Depending on who’s on base my job changes so I feel I have to be productive there because I can do multiple things.”
La. Tech regained the lead at 4-3 in the fifth when the Bulldogs successfully pulled off a suicide squeeze play with Brooke Diaz’s bunt against Kilponen resulting in Zoe Hicks scoring ahead of Amanda Doyle’s scoop to Cummins at the plate.
Kilponen had base runners on each the fifth and sixth on a walk and hit batter, respectively, but got a pop up to Cummins and pair of swinging strikeouts to end the game.
“We understand people are going to give us their best game all the time,” Torina said. “Every time we play Louisiana Tech it’s a ball game. I can’t think of a time ever where it’s been a relaxed, seven inning nothing happened. Every time we’ve played them it’s been a ballgame. This lived right up for us.”