More often than not, teams, not individuals, win games.
But not on Sunday when LSU sophomore pitcher Ali Kilponen was almost solely responsible for the Tigers winning an SEC road softball series Sunday.
After 15th ranked LSU lost the series opener 9-1 at 19th ranked Missouri Friday, the visiting Tigers were faced with the prospect of a Sunday doubleheader when Saturday rainstorms postponed game two.
The only remaining lightning on a sunny Sunday was from Kilponen’s right arm. As a starter in game two delayed from Saturday and as a reliever in game three, Kilponen almost threw back-to-back complete game victories.
Kilponen started in game two, throwing a seven-inning complete game four-hitter in 4-2 win. Then, after LSU game three starter Shelby Wickersham gave up five runs and recorded just one out in the first inning, Kilponen delivered 6.2 innings of three-hit, shutout pitching in LSU’s 12-5 win.
LSU headed home 24-13 overall and 8-7 in the SEC and Kilponen earned a few days off.
Her combined Sunday worksheet in running her record to 10-4 was 13.2 innings pitched, 137 strikes in 231 pitches to 55 batters, two runs and six hits allowed with 15 strikeouts and six walks.
She was actually better in game three relief (no runs, seven strikeouts, one walk) than as a game two starter (two runs, eight strikeouts, five walks).
Maybe it was because LSU exploded for 18 hits in the finale, led by center fielder Aliyah Andrews 4 for 5, two RBIs performance and shortstop Taylor Pleasants 3 for 5 and three RBIs highlighted by her solo homer.
It came in LSU’s four-run seventh when shortstop Taylor Tidwell and Pleasants launched back-to-back homers.
In game two, LSU could only manage six hits but got a solo homer from Georgia Clark in the second inning and got consecutive hits on an Andrews double and a Danieca Coffey RBI single to start LSU’s three-run third inning for a 4-1 lead.
Missouri third baseman Kim Wert homered to lead off the fourth, but Kilponen didn’t allow a run the rest of the way.
It wasn’t easy, though.
She walked the bases full in the Missouri sixth but struck out catcher Riley Frizell to end the rally. In the Missouri seventh, Kilopnen got Missouri catcher Hatti Moore to line out to end the game with runners on first and second base.