HAMMOND — When the first run went up on the scoreboard, the LSU softball team’s dugout came alive with playful banter.
“We did it. It’s possible,” the Tigers jokingly told each other.
One run might not seem like much to celebrate. But after LSU toiled through 21 straight shutout innings against No. 14 Kentucky last weekend, the jests heralded an offensive breakthrough coaches and players believed to be imminent.
The No. 11 Tigers broke out of their slump with a six-run sixth inning and clinched a 9-1 victory against Southeastern at North Oak Park on Wednesday night. LSU (30-12) cranked out 12 hits, highlighted by senior first baseman Sandra Simmons’ career-high four hits.
“I liked our attitude in our approach,” LSU coach Beth Torina said, visibly relieved. “From the minute we got to the field, they were different. People were trying to fire each other up and be positive and different. That’s what we started (against Kentucky) on Monday tonight, and we carried that into today.”
The Tigers scored a run in each of the first two innings but continued to struggle with runners on base, where they went 1-for-40 against the Wildcats. Relief pitcher Taylor Bishop entered in the second inning and helped strand nine LSU runners through the first five innings.
Then the Tigers created the breakthrough they forecasted only two days ago.
Sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs belted a leadoff triple in the sixth inning, further signaling the end of her personal slump. Simmons, who scored then drove in LSU’s first two runs, pulled one through the right side to score Griggs.
The Tigers sandwiched two walks around a popout before senior designated player Kellsi Kloss singled to load the bases. Junior second baseman Constance Quinn followed with a two-RBI shot to the right-field wall that turned the dugout’s jokes to cheers.
Two more runs scored on an errant pickoff attempt at second base and a passed ball.
“It was nice to see a couple numbers up on the board instead of zeroes,” Kloss said. “I think we were really comfortable today. We all felt really good. ... We just got out jobs done. That was the big thing.”
LSU’s high-powered offense wasn’t the only thing that returned Wednesday night. Junior right-hander Baylee Corbello made her first appearance in more than a month, allowing only one run during her complete-game performance.
But her return wasn’t always smooth. She consistently ran into trouble, granting the Lady Lions (19-21) multiple base runners in all but one inning.
Corbello, however, thwarted almost every threat, twice escaping bases-loaded jams in the first and seventh innings. The junior, who hadn’t pitched since March 15, said she dealt more with jitters than any physical rust.
“She battled through some things,” Torina said. “It was a really tight zone, she hadn’t pitched in a while. But the one thing she has done is continued to work. She was prepared for the day and did a good job.”
Now LSU hopes to carry the offensive momentum through the final stretch of its schedule, which picks up again Friday at Mississippi State.
If the Tigers can accomplish that, they won’t be joking about one-run innings much longer.
“Energy all night, from the first inning to the seventh inning, was extremely great,” Simmons said. “From the minute we showed up today, we were ready to prove to anybody that we come across for the rest of the season that we are LSU.”