After losing two games last week and starting this weekend with a pair of narrow final-inning victories, what LSU softball needed most Sunday was an easy win against Florida Atlantic to send the Tigers into Southeastern Conference play.
Thanks to Sydney Springfield, that’s exactly what the Tigers got.
Springfield launched a grand slam into the left-field berm in the first inning to send LSU cruising to a no-frills 5-1 win over the Owls to complete a five-game clean sweep of the LSU Invitational before opening conference play Friday against Auburn.
It was Springfield's first home run of the season and second grand slam of her career.
“It was a game-changer, and it shifted the momentum and the energy, and I think that’s what we really needed,” Springfield said. “It’s just awesome to do whatever it takes to win for your team or do something to pull the energy for your team, because we really needed that. I think that helped everyone.”
No one felt the boost from Springfield’s home run more than Allie Walljasper.
The LSU pitchers have carried more than their fair share of the workload this season as the offense has struggled to generate runs.
But with Springfield delivering the early lead, Walljasper (8-1) could relax for the rest of the game without worrying one mistake could be the difference in a win and the No. 10 Tigers (19-2) getting upset on their home field.
She used that to her advantage to strike out eight Owls while allowing only five hits. Her lone blemish on the scoreboard for the day was an unearned run from a rash of errors from LSU’s middle infield in the sixth inning after coach Beth Torina made some late changes to get a few backups extra work.
“It kind of puts some weight off my shoulders, for sure,” Walljasper said. “But Sydney Springfield had a great at-bat that at-bat. She just goes out there and sings hard and it finally met the bat perfectly. It’s great.”
LSU was able continued its hot streak at the plate from Saturday — hot compared to the rest of the season, at least — although this time the Tigers were able to spread it out among the entire team.
LSU totaled seven hits from seven players to bring its two-day total to 23 in three games.
Unfortunately, that didn’t equate to more runs.
After Springfield’s slam, LSU scored only one other run Sunday, when shortstop Amber Serrett hit a deep sacrifice fly to the center-field warning track to push Aliyah Andrews across the plate.
Still, Torina said she gave her team a high grade immediately following the final out, especially after bouncing back from two losses last week.
“I think it’s huge to build some confidence back up,” Torina said. “(Last weekend) was the first time they’ve really been punched, and they’ve got to figure out how they’re going to punch back. It’s the first time they’ve had that experience. They haven’t even been down very often with the pitching staff we have. So I think it’s very important to get these wins.”