Last year’s LSU softball team won 21 games via the mercy rule. One day into this season, the Tigers already have two such victories.
Behind dominant pitching and a pair of early-inning explosions, LSU snagged two 9-0, run-rule shortened wins against Ohio State and North Florida on Friday night in a packed Tiger Park. The Tigers (2-0) recorded 17 hits between both games while their pitchers limited the opponents to only three.
“I liked that we were able to make adjustments from game to game,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “I thought we saw two completely different styles. We were able to make adjustments and find a way to win. I thought we got contributions from a lot of different people.”
Senior third baseman Jenna Kreamer highlighted the night with a grand slam that propelled LSU to its win against the Ospreys (0-2).
“It felt great. I’m excited to start off the season with that,” Kreamer said. “We’ve been working hard as a team and trusting our process and our plan. I just saw a good pitch and took advantage of it.”
LSU 9, OHIO STATE 0: The Tigers wasted no time showing off the offensive firepower that helped them reach the Women’s College World Series last season. With a little help from the Buckeyes (1-1), LSU batted through the order in the first inning of the opening contest.
OSU pitcher Shelby McCombs threw 10 balls on her first 11 pitches, giving the Tigers two free baserunners with power hitters Sahvanna Jaquish and Bianka Bell due at the plate. LSU capitalized on the opportunity, driving in five runs on four hits to build a five-point lead after one inning.
“That’s something that we expect to do,” Jaquish said. “Our two slappers got on, and from there we got the ball rolling with everybody. We were all seeing the ball pretty well today.”
LSU tacked on another run in the second inning before cementing its lead with another three in the third. Freshman left fielder Amber Serrett scored on a fielder’s choice, and Jaquish drove in two runs with a double to right field.
Sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover had a few hiccups throughout the contest but turned in a five-strikeout complete game. Occasional struggles with command led her into jams in the third and fifth innings, but she wiggled free of each one using her overpowering pitches.
LSU 9, NORTH FLORIDA 0: Hoover’s performance was a tough act to follow, but freshman Sydney Smith shined in the Tigers’ win against UNF.
The right-hander tossed a complete game, a one-hitter in which she struck out eight batters. Much like Hoover, Smith faced two troublesome innings but worked around a pair of baserunners to escape both times.
“I just really trusted in what my coach was calling,” Smith said. “I trusted that working on the process in the bullpen would make everything come together, and it really did. I really mixed around a lot of different pitches.”
LSU again received a lift from the opposing pitcher, this time in the form of three straight walks from Ospreys’ hurler Janet Snipe in the second inning. That’s when Kreamer launched her bases-clearing homer over the left-field wall , which woke the offense after a quiet first inning.
“She got us so fired up,” Jaquish said of Kreamer’s grand slam. “We all want the long ball, but a grand slam is a cherry on top.”
Snipe hit two batters to begin the bottom of the third inning, which the Tigers’ used to add a three-run cushion to their lead. LSU piled on two more runs in the fourth, and freshman pinch-hitter Taylor Satchell capped the scoring with a stand-up RBI triple.
Torina, however, acknowledged there were a handful of things her squad needs to do better. The Tigers committed three fielding errors, and senior first baseman Sandra Simmons’ RBI suicide squeeze against UNF was negated because she hit the ball while standing in front of the batter’s box.
But as LSU’s mantra of “Next” dictates, the Tigers are moving on to their doubleheader against Connecticut and Pacific beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“That’s our big thing, always focused on the next opponent and not thinking about what’s going to happen the rest of the weekend,” Torina said. “Take care of that and get the next one.”