Before they even took the field Saturday night, LSU softball coach Beth Torina told her players they had already won the day.
The Tigers were more than happy to notch a win against South Carolina as well.
On a day when LSU and Geaux Teal honored ovarian cancer survivors, No. 14 LSU quickly dispatched the Gamecocks in an 8-0 mercy-rule win Saturday night at Tiger Park. The Tigers (35-13, 9-11 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth consecutive league contest after a bumpy five-week stretch to open SEC play.
“I think we played relaxed again. We’re not focusing on ourselves a lot,” junior catcher Sahvanna Jaquish said. “Today was about the survivors and people who lost loved ones. We’re grateful that we get to play a game and go home afterward.”
LSU improved to 5-0 in “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” games, using a consistently productive offense and a two-hit outing from sophomore righty Allie Walljasper (8-5) to get the job done.
The Tigers scored in three of the four innings in which they hit, striking first with an RBI single from senior third baseman Bianka Bell in the opening inning. Though a pair of double plays soured threats in the first two innings, the Tigers soon cracked Gamecocks’ starter Nickie Blue (15-11).
A bases-loaded situation — a source of trouble for LSU this season — in the third inning resulted in four runs, the first one coming via walk. Bell drove in two more before Jaquish’s sac fly scored sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs.
“You can see (more confidence) in everybody at the plate. Everybody’s swinging at good pitches, taking the bad pitches and are just ready to do a job,” Bell said. “We’re just focusing on the team and not ourselves, and we’re having a lot better at-bats and outcomes.”
LSU enacted the run rule in the next inning with three more runs, highlighted by junior second baseman Constance Quinn’s first home run of the season.
“I’ve been trusting in (hitting coach Howard) Dobson,” Quinn said. “We’ve been working on getting my hands to the ball and trusting myself more so than being frustrated with results and everything. Hard work pays off.”
Despite Walljasper’s efficient 54-pitch performance, Torina said the sophomore “didn’t have her best stuff.” She plunked two batters and gave up back-to-back infield singles in the third inning before settling in to retire the final seven batters she faced.
The Tigers won their second straight SEC series while run-ruling a league foe for the second time in three games. They’ll attempt to sweep South Carolina (32-15, 5-12 SEC) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“The message (to the team) was expect their best game tomorrow,” Torina said. “Expect them to bring their ‘A’ game, and we’re going to have to do the same.”