The LSU softball team got a complete effort in its 5-0 victory against Southern Mississippi on Wednesday night at Tiger Park.
Allie Walljasper pitched a six-hitter, Amber Serrett and Sahvanna Jaquish homered, Kellsi Kloss drove in a run and scored another and Serrett turned in a defensive gem.
The eighth-ranked Tigers (29-9) return to Southeastern Conference play when they host No. 16 Kentucky in a three-game series beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Park. The Golden Eagles are 18-21.
“Overall I thought we did a good job, but I really like the way we swung the bats tonight,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “We hit things really hard and I think it’s been a while since we stepped up to the plate with that kind of confidence.”
Five of the Tigers’ eight hits were for extra bases, and the home runs were supplemented by Kloss’ RBI triple, as well as doubles by Sandra Simmons and Bianka Bell. LSU scored single runs in every inning except the first.
“My teammates swung the bats really well,” said Walljasper (6-4), who chipped in a single. “I had trust in each and every player and each of my pitches too.”
LSU took a 1-0 lead against Jillian Johnson (3-4) in the second when Kloss led off by being hit by a pitch. One out later, Walljasper singled to right, and Serrett followed with a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers increased the lead to 2-0 in the third when Bell doubled and Kloss tripled her home.
Serrett’s second homer of the season in the fourth and Jaquish’s 10th homer of the season in the fifth increased the lead to 4-0.
The Tigers added an unearned run after two were out in the sixth. Alayna Falcon got a pinch-hit single and pinch runner Akiya Thymes stole second. Catcher Samantha Papp threw to short trying to pick off Thymes, who stole third and continued home on shortstop Lauren Holifield’s throwing error.
The defensive play of the game came in the top of the third. The Golden Eagles had a runner on first with one out when Holifield hit a low liner toward the hole at shortstop. Serrett dove and made a backhand stab of the ball before it reached the ground, then from her knees she threw to first to double off Papp.
“In practice Amber, gets to balls that are so hard to get to,” said Jaquish, who was on the receiving end of the double play at first. “Not a lot of people see it. She makes all these spectacular ‘ESPN plays,’ we call them.”
Serrett said she was “definitely” more pleased by the double play than by her home run.
“It’s always said that defense wins championships,” she said. “You can win a game with a little bloop hit, but defense always has to be solid.”
The Golden Eagles had a base-runner in every inning, but Walljasper stranded eight of them.
USM’s biggest threat came in the sixth when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Walljasper grabbed Samantha Robles’ soft pop-up near the third-base line.
Walljasper finished strong, getting two of her four strikeouts in the seventh as she worked around a one-out double by pinch hitter Tori Rouse.