Southern baseball team adds three players for home opener _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU catcher Kellsi Kloss, left, and pitcher Carley Hoover

One grand slam wasn’t enough for Kellsi Kloss.

The senior catcher blasted a pair of base-clearing home runs and set the program single-game RBI record with nine as LSU trounced Bethune-Cookman 16-2 in five innings last Friday night at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, California.

That was the first of four straight victories — two of them against top-15 teams — for the Tigers, who opened their tournament schedule with a 3-0 loss to then-No. 9 Arizona.

But No. 5 LSU (8-2) doesn’t have much more time to enjoy the success it had out west. The Tigers will host South Alabama in their first midweek game of the season at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Tiger Park.

LSU fared well in midweek games last season, posting a 6-1 record along with three run-rule victories. Its lone loss was a 9-4 at Mississippi State.

The first of the Tigers’ 10 midweek contests on this season’s slate will come against the unranked Jaguars (6-3), who still received 12 votes in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll after sliding from No. 23. South Alabama opened its season with five straight wins before losing three in a row, a skid it ended last Sunday with a 10-2, mercy-rule win against Southern Miss.

LSU, meanwhile, is fresh off a 10-5 victory against then-No. 8 UCLA. Eight Tigers recorded hits as they built a comfortable lead, and sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover struck out seven batters en route to her fourth win of the year.

The tournament opener didn’t go as well for the Tigers, who managed only three hits in a 3-0 loss against Arizona. Sophomore pitcher Allie Walljasper allowed only one earned run on five hits, two of which accompanied an LSU error during the Wildcats’ three-run fifth inning.

The Tigers responded hours later by dismantling Bethune-Cookman behind Kloss’ big night at the plate.

LSU kept its momentum rolling during its Saturday doubleheader, grinding out a pair of wins against UC-Santa Barbara and then-No. 15 Central Florida. Junior second baseman Constance Quinn went 3-for-3 to lead her team back from two deficits in the back-and-forth, 6-5 win against the Knights.

The Tigers now turn their attention to South Alabama, a common midweek foe as of late. They’ve split the last four games against the Jaguars, most recently picking up a mercy-rule victory in the teams’ midweek meeting last season.

But South Alabama has given LSU trouble. The Jaguars grabbed a 2-1 win during the 2014 Tiger Invitational and a 12-5 midweek loss in 2013.

This year’s Jaguars present yet another challenge, with sophomore pitcher Devin Brown boasting a 0.90 ERA and two shutouts in four starts. Senior third baseman Emily Messer leads the lineup with a .657 batting average and five RBIs.