For the second straight night No. 20 LSU’s softball team couldn’t hold onto a big lead and for the second consecutive night suffered an excruciating defeat.
The Tigers were unable to build on a 4-0 lead after the first inning and the No. 8 Wildcats rallied to tie the game in the fourth before Erin Coffel’s three-run homer in the top of the eighth inning provided an 8-5 victory Saturday in Southeastern Conference action at Tiger Park.
Kentucky (24-8, 5-3 in SEC) captured the series, its first against LSU since 2018, and the two teams meet again at noon Sunday. The game can be heard locally over 107.3-FM and streamed by SEC Network+.
“I thought we had a good first inning and then we had a lull in there where we had some at-bats that got away from us,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said. “We had a good answer at the end, and we were able to show a lot of fight in the last couple innings. I was happy with how we finished but we must be able to do it throughout.”
LSU (22-14, 3-5), which dropped to 10th place in the SEC, knocked Kentucky starter Izzy Harrison from the game with four runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning in the bottom of the first. The Tigers took advantage of three walks with McKenzie Redoutey producing a run on a bases-loaded walk and Ali Newland making it 4-0 with a three-run double to left-center field.
“I thought we had a good first inning and then we had a lull in there where we had some at-bats that got away from us,” Newland said. “We had a good answer at the end, and we were able to show a lot of fight in the last couple innings. I was happy with how we finished but we must be able to do it throughout.”
Kentucky reliever Miranda Stoddard came into silence LSU with four consecutive scoreless innings, giving the Wildcats enough time to rally and take a 5-4 lead in the fifth.
Kentucky chased LSU starter Ali Kilponen (3.1 IP, 5 hits, 4 ERs, 4 BBs) in favor of Shelby Wickersham who gave up an RBI-groundout to Coffel that tied the game at 4-4.
LSU finally broke through against Stoddard in the sixth when designated player Shelbi Sunseri singled and Newland (3-for-4) singled with two outs. The Tigers tied the game at 5-all when pinch-hitter Baylea Brandon doubled through the left side, driving in pinch-runner K.K. Madrey from third base.
Wickersham (2-4) stranded two runners in the seventh but couldn’t hold Kentucky in the eighth with a walk to lead-off batter Barb Kowalik and infield single by Rylea Smith. Coffel, who homered in Friday’s opener, drove a 1-0 change-up from Wickersham over the left field fence.
Wickersham worked 4.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout.
LSU, which was outhit 10-8, applied some early heat in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Tyler Stoddard, who was the winning pitcher for the second straight night.
Georgia Clark walked and Sunseri (2-4) doubled down the right-field line, but Redoutey was called out on strikes, Newland grounded out and pinch-hitter Morgan Smith popped up to right field.