LSU’s fifth-ranked softball team rallied twice, taking the lead for good with a three-run fifth inning to earn a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Kansas in the Tiger Classic on a chilly Saturday night in Tiger Park.
The Tigers (2-1) complete play in the round-robin event Sunday with a doubleheader against Central Arkansas at 12:30 and 3 p.m. which will be carried by the SEC Network+.
“We had to fight every step of the way,” LSU softball coach Beth Torina said. “Kansas did a really good job and continued to battle with us. It makes for some good TV. I tell this team all the time I’d rather take a team with guts than a team with talent any day. I think this team has talent, too, but I liked the way they fought and how they fight. The more they can prove that to themselves, the better off they’ll be.”
LSU, which lost 8-4 to No. 25 Duke on Friday, trailed 1-0 in the second and 3-2 when the Tigers batted in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Shortstop Taylor Pleasants drew a walk and third baseman Amanda Doyle likely stunned Kansas starter Hailey Reed by swinging on a 3-0 pitch for a two-run homer and a 4-3 lead.
“I saw a pitch that I could drive and off the bat it felt really good,” Doyle said.
Then, designated player Georgia Clark immediately followed with a solo homer for a two-run lead that eventually survived for the margin of victory thanks to Tigers’ reliever Shelbi Sunseri.
She replaced LSU starter Maribeth Gorsuch in the top of the fifth and allowed a two-out single by Madison Hirsch and a RBI single by catcher Shelby Gayre before escaping a bases loaded situation to end the inning.
Sunseri (2-0) gave up four hits in 2.2 innings and struck out one.
LSU fell behind 1-0 on Gayre’s lead-off homer off Gorsuch in the second. The Tigers pulled even at 1-1 when left fielder Ciara Briggs homered on a one-out pitch against losing pitcher Reed, who allowed five runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings.
The Tigers took their first lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly to center field from catcher Morgan Cummins. Kansas (1-3), which outhit LSU 9-8, regained the lead in the top of the fifth on Haleigh Harper’s lead-off homer on an 0-2 pitch from Gorsuch.
But the Tigers didn’t panic, dug a little deeper and avoided going under .500 for first time since starting the 2014 season 0-2.
“We do a great job of staying within the game,” Briggs said. “It takes every single one of us. We never let anything faze us. We’re like ok, ‘If they score one, let’s score two here’. We just try to keep going every single inning and keeping the momentum and building on that. It’s huge. We lift each other up the whole game and keep our momentum up.”