Kellsi Kloss wasn’t satisfied with her first at-bat.
So the senior designated player more than made up for it with her next two plate appearances, crushing a pair of three-run homers to push the LSU softball team past Illinois State 10-2 in a mercy-rule win Friday night at Tiger Park.
“I knew they were throwing a good amount of balls before that, so I told myself to be really patient and not get out of my element,” Kloss said. “I told myself to just see a pitch that I wanted. I did, and I did something with both of them.”
But that wasn’t even Kloss’ best performance of the season. The senior was exactly one week removed from her two-grand slam, nine-RBIs outing vs. Bethune-Cookman.
“We were all just laughing about it,” coach Beth Torina said. “If Kellsi Kloss hits one home run, make sure you don’t do anything to not give her another at-bat because she’s going to be up for a second one.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Tigers (10-2), who found themselves in a 2-0 hole after the first inning.
Freshman pitcher Sydney Smith issued only a walk in the opening inning, but two errors and a wild pitch allowed the Redbirds (3-8) to take an early lead. The defensive struggles came just two days after LSU committed a pair of errors and allowed four infield hits during a 5-0 win against South Alabama.
Torina said the shaky infield play is a matter of getting the proper personnel in place.
“I think it’s just something we’ve got to continue working on. It’s a long season,” the coach said. “It’s not something we’re not working on. We’re spending quite a bit of time on it.”
The defense tightened up from there, and Smith, who turned 19 on Friday, cruised the rest of the way. She surrendered only three hits and struck out five.
“I was thinking to myself that I had prepared in the bullpen, and preparation is really going to work,” she said. “I just trusted my stuff and trusted that I had everybody behind me.”
The Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the second inning, but the fireworks were yet to come. Junior catcher Sahvanna Jaquish and senior shortstop Bianka Bell both knocked two-out singles in the next inning, setting the stage for Kloss’ first home run.
Junior right fielder Bailey Landry followed with a triple and scored her second run when freshman left fielder Amber Serrett singled in the next at-bat.
Kloss wasn’t finished. After LSU tacked on another run in the fourth inning, the senior smashed her second two-out homer to make it 9-2.
“She’s amazing. You always know when she goes up to bat that something is going to happen,” Smith said. “Nobody ever doubts her for one second. ... It’s just good to have her on our side.”
Junior second baseman Constance Quinn sealed the run-rule victory with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Freshman Akiyah Thymes, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for senior first baseman Sandra Simmons, stole second and scored the winning run on Quinn’s hit.
After recording 13 hits Friday night, the Tigers will face Illinois State and Texas Tech in a doubleheader beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Kloss leads the team in home runs (four) and RBIs (20). She holds a three-home run advantage over Jaquish and Bell, who last season secured the top two spots in the program’s single-season home run column with 17 and 18.
“They do a great job of setting a pace for me,” Kloss said with a smile.
“But I don’t think I’ll quite catch them.”