LSU softball senior Kailey McCasland had to remind herself to breathe as she trotted past home plate and into the arms of her teammates. After four years of mostly reserve work, she wasn’t used to the excitement.
In her first at-bat of the season, McCasland came off the bench to hit a game-winning, inside-the-park home run to force a mercy rule in an 8-0 win over Central Arkansas (5-4).
Even she didn’t believe it was actually happening.
“I was just trying to get on base,” McCasland said. “I knew the ball got to the fence, but I didn’t think I was fast enough to make it all the way around. So when coach (Beth Torina) was rounding me, I was like, ‘There’s no way she’s sending me home right now.’”
The game didn’t provide any dramatics as the Tigers (7-0) cruised over the Bears on Friday night, but the smile Torina’s face looked as if they had just won the College World Series. LSU defeated Hofstra 3-0 in the first leg of the doubleheader in a relatively uneventful game.
“Sometimes, I think the ball does bounce the right way for the right people,” Torina said.
McCasland’s hit gave the Tigers their second win of the day at the Tiger Invitational, pushing their win streak to seven games to start the season.
But while McCasland earned the distinction of the most meaningful performance of the night, several other Tigers challenged her for the best showing.
Sophomore Sahvanna Jaquish walked away from Friday night with six RBIs, all stemming from a pair of three-run homers against Central Arkansas. All of the Tigers’ 11 runs scored in the doubleheader were tallied on home runs with the exception of one against Hofstra in the forth inning.
Bianka Bell was responsible for getting the power streak started with her fourth home run of the season, putting her at 30 for her career, just three shy of tying the program record.
“It feels awesome (to have that power in the lineup),” Jaquish said. “It feels so great to be able to see the ball hit the Berm. That’s my favorite part of playing at Tiger Park.”
Defensively, the Tigers registered their third and fourth shutouts of the season on the arms of freshman Allie Walljasper and sophomore Baylee Corbello, respectively.
Walljasper retired five batters as she produced her second shutout in as many games to start her career in Baton Rouge.
“(Walljasper) has been really impressive,” Torina said. “I don’t think she’ll have huge strikeout numbers, but she’s going to throw us a ton of ground balls, a ton of fly balls and keep us in every game.”
Corbello was less impressed with her performance against Central Arkansas despite only allowing one hit and striking out five batters.
Both Corbello and Torina said they expect more out of the Tigers’ ace as the season progresses.
“I’m not satisfied with tonight, and I hope no one else thinks I am,” Corbello said.