It took three games for Allie Walljasper to finally make her way into the circle at Tiger Park this season.
Once she did, she proved why it was well worth the wait.
Picking up where she left off from last season, when she was named a third-team All-American, LSU’s senior pitcher struck out eight batters and allowed only four hits in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader to give the Tigers a 4-0 win over Southern Miss.
Walljasper was in control from the start, closing out the first inning with a pair of strikeouts.
And once LSU (3-0) got an early lead with a three-run second inning, Walljasper cruised to her 46th career victory.
“I’ve been working for a long time on having a new me out there, spotting my pitches a little bit better,” she said. “I just kind of went out there to try something different and had my team behind me the entire time. It was a fun outing.”
It was a bit of an emotional night for Walljasper, who made the final season debut of her collegiate career Friday.
But another career began.
In LSU's first game of the day, pitcher Shelbi Sunseri made her collegiate debut in a 9-2 win over UT-Arlington.
The freshman had a bit of a bumpy start with an early, bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but she bounced back to throw five more shutout frames.
She finished the game allowing six hits, walking four and striking out one batter.
“She did well,” coach Beth Torina said. “Toughest strike zone we got all weekend long, and I thought she did a good job competing in it. That’s gong to happen, but she did a good job adjusting to that.”
And for what the pitchers couldn’t do, the LSU batters were more than happy to pick up any leftover slack.
The Tigers exploded for 11 hits against UT-Arlington in the first game and then had a more subdued five hits against Southern Miss.
Emily Griggs — the lone senior to join Walljasper on the field Friday night — was the spark LSU needed at the plate. In the first game, she batted in the game-tying and go-ahead runs against the Mavericks.
Sophomore first baseman Amanda Doyle and junior shortstop Amber Serrett led the team with three hits, three RBIs and two runs each between the two games.
“I thought overall it was a decent day,” Torina said. “Obviously we see a lot things we need to continue doing better, but I thought we got better as the day went on. (We) got two solid pitching performances, which is always good and I thought the at-bats got better as the day went on.”