The LSU softball team completes a stretch of six road games in eight days when it visits McNeese State for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Lake Charles.
It’s a compressed scheduled that’s taxing on a pitching staff and would have been even more taxing on the Tigers last season. But with the addition of freshmen Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper and returning sophomores Baylee Corbello and Kelsee Selman, LSU has the depth to spread the workload around.
“It’s not a one-woman show,” said Corbello, who threw 199 innings last season but is on pace to throw fewer than half that many this season.
Selman (8-0, 1.79 ERA) has been the primary midweek starter, though she and Walljapser (10-2, 1.39), Hoover (11-2, 1.75) and Corbello (9-1, 1.75) give coach Beth Torina a variety of options in any given game.
“I think having those other pitchers provides a contrast that makes (Corbello) better,” Torina said. “She has stepped up as a leader on top of performing well as a pitcher.”
The road swing began with a 9-4 loss at Mississippi State in which neither the pitching nor the defense was up to par. In four games last week, LSU’s ERA was 4.31 and the Tigers committed eight errors.
Walljasper lasted just 1.2 innings against State, giving up five hits and three runs (two earned). Hoover allowed four hits and four runs (two earned) in 3.1 innings, and Corbello finished with one inning in which she yielded two hits and two unearned runs.
The Tigers bounced back with their first ever series win at Tennessee, taking the first two games.
Hoover threw a complete game Friday, allowing just seven hits and one run. Walljasper gave up five hits and two unearned runs Saturday before being relieved by Selman, who got the win after pitching 3.1 innings in which she allowed three hits and two runs.
Corbello absorbed her first loss of the season Sunday after allowing five hits and five runs (four earned) in 2.1 innings. Hoover relieved her and allowed five hits and three runs in 3.2 innings.
Hoover said Corbello and Selman, who threw 49 innings last season, “are more developed than us, but we’ll get there next year.”
Both freshmen said they’ve learned a lot from Corbello.
“Baylee knows what Coach is looking for,” Hoover said, “and it’s good to have another eye when Coach is busy doing something else.”
“Since I first got here, Bailey was the first one to help me with everything,” Walljasper said. “When I get frustrated, she cheers me up. Every day she tells me something new. She reminds me of my daily goals and what I need to do to get better.”
Corbello said having more time to sit and observe the other pitchers during games has been beneficial.
“I’ve taken something from each of them,” she said.
LSU (38-5) dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in both polls released Tuesday. In the USA Today/coaches poll, Oregon was No. 1 and Florida was No. 2; those teams were in reversed order in the ESPN/USA Softball poll.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.