The LSU softball team phoned a friend Sunday.
Using their trusty dugout phone — a holdover rally item from the 2012 squad’s trip to the Women’s College World Series — the Tigers called “Judy” for a little assistance. And “Judy,” the team’s term for a fly ball that finds a gap, was ready and willing to help.
No. 5 LSU hit a handful of “Judies” during its 10-run first inning and coasted past Tennessee Tech for a 16-0, mercy-rule win to close out the LSU Invitational in Tiger Park.
But with sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover in the circle, LSU didn’t need all those runs.
Making her third appearance in two days, the right-hander tossed her first career no-hitter and surrendered only two walks. She struck out the side on only 10 pitches in the first inning and needed only three pitches to retire the Golden Eagles (5-13) in the third.
“The ‘Judy’ phone is in full effect in the dugout,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “When you’re playing as well as they are right now, things do tend to fall in for you. But I don’t know if I believe so much in luck as them making good contact throughout the weekend and having quality at-bats.”
The Tigers (19-2) excelled at the plate in their five-game weekend sweep, outscoring opponents 58-8 en route to four run-rule victories. LSU produced a nine-run inning against Memphis on Friday night to clinch a 17-2 win.
“We’ve been finding more holes and moving the ball around the field,” senior shortstop Bianka Bell said. “ We’ve just been finding more ways to score runs and be more relentless in our approach at the plate.”
Bell got things started Sunday with a two-out single, one of her two hits in the inning. The next two batters drew walks, loading the bases for freshman shortstop Amber Serrett’s two-RBI bloop single to shallow left field.
One batter later, senior designated player Kellsi Kloss hit a “Judy” of her own to score another pair of runners. Senior first baseman Sandra Simmons and sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs followed with run-scoring doubles before Bell knocked in two more runs with another single.
Bell punctuated the huge inning by scoring on a wild pitch. All the production came with two outs, and the Tigers forced two pitching changes in the half-hour half-inning.
“ ‘Judy’ was out today. We like ‘Judy,’ ” Bell said. “It’s nice to win in a different way. Not hitting the ball hard and solid like we normally do, but just finding ways to get on base and move runners.”
LSU tacked on three more runs in the third inning via a two-run single from junior catcher Sahvanna Jaquish and Landry’s RBI single to center field. The squad threatened to score more runs, but the inning ended when Serrett lined out into a double play.
The Tigers added their final three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning behind three pinch hits, highlighted by freshman Shemiah Sanchez’ two-RBI, stand-up double.
Hoover (8-0) earned three wins over the weekend, giving up only two hits while striking out 26 over 13.2 innings.
“It’s hard to say if that was (my best weekend of softball),” the sophomore said. “I feel like I did well. I did what it took for us to get wins.”
While Hoover solidified herself as LSU’s ace, Torina’s personnel decisions became even murkier this weekend. Nine players recorded at least one RBI on Sunday, and the Tigers received consistent production from their pinch hitters.
Torina said before the season she hoped to have a set lineup by the time Southeastern Conference play begins March 11. But the coach said she’ll continue to play whoever’s hot instead of fixing a strict lineup.
There is, however, one person Torina will stick with no matter what.
“ ‘Judy’ is in her fifth year of eligibility,” Torina said with a smile. “But we’re still taking it.”