Tuesday didn’t get off to a great start for the LSU softball team, but it ended just fine for the Tigers.
After losing two out of three games at Kentucky over the weekend, LSU dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 when the national polls were released prior to the Tigers game against Louisiana-Monroe at Tiger Park.
Then the Warhawks took a two-run lead after a first inning in which LSU starting pitcher Kelsee Selman was relieved and her teammates left the bases loaded.
But Carley Hoover (9-2) came out of the bullpen to pitch 6.1 strong innings, Sahvannah Jaquish homered and Bailey Landry hit a pair of two-run singles as LSU assumed control in the third inning and beat ULM 7-3.
“We knew we didn’t give it our best shot at Kentucky,” said Landry, who went 3-for-3 with a walk. “We knew we had another opportunity to do what we practice and come out here and get a victory tonight.”
The Tigers (33-3) return to Southeastern Conference play when they host Ole Miss in the opener of a three-game series Friday. The Warhawks (24-9) return to Sun Belt Conference play with a doubleheader at Troy on Friday.
Hoover struck out 11, including the side in order in the fourth and the side in the ninth when she allowed her only run.
“Carley did a nice job,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “She was throwing really hard tonight and she really held them down.”
The score was tied at 2 when Jaquish led off the third with a homer to center. Emily Griggs’ RBI single on the infield and Landry’s second two-run single gave LSU a 6-2 lead after three.
Jaquish’s sacrifice fly increased the lead to 7-2 in the sixth.
ULM’s first three hitters singled against Hoover in the seventh, cutting the lead to 7-3, but she struck out the side to finish it.
“We felt like we could get things going back in a positive direction here at home,” Torina said. “Was it our best game? Absolutely not, but was it a step in the right direction to get us back on track? Absolutely it was.”
Selman yielded three doubles, a hit batter and two runs before Hoover relieved and got a three-pitch strikeout to strand two runners.
“Coach always prepares two pitchers, so even though I wasn’t starting I was preparing,” Hoover said. “When the first hit happened I was ready.”
The Tigers got even in the second on Landry’s first two-run single.
“That hit gave us a lot of momentum,” Jaquish said. “Hitting is contagious and it just snowballed from there.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.