OKLAHOMA CITY — When LSU won back-to-back games against James Madison to capture the Harrisonburg (Va.) super regional, it didn’t even need to call on its ace pitcher, Carley Hoover.
Allie Walljasper went the distance to win the first game, and she picked up for Sydney Smith to save the second.
But Hoover was front and center again as the Tigers won back-to-back elimination games to reach the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series.
She threw five strong innings to get the win in a 6-4 victory against Alabama on Saturday, and she came back to throw a three-hitter in a 4-1 victory against Georgia on Sunday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
“They are a great offense, maybe the best offense in the Southeastern Conference,” LSU coach Beth Torina said, “and she kept them off balance all day, did such a good job keeping us in it and just commanded the zone, commanded her pitches.”
Sunday’s game was just the eighth in 66 games this season in which Georgia scored fewer than two runs. One of the other occasions came when Walljasper pitched a seven-hitter in a 5-1 victory against the Bulldogs on April 2 in Athens, Georgia.
Georgia averaged 6.32 runs per game and was shut out just once.
Hoover, who got the victory in the Tigers’ 6-1 WCWS opening-game victory against Auburn last season, tied Kristin Schmidt’s school record with her third WCWS victory. She, Walljasper and Smith were all available when the Tigers played Oklahoma on Sunday night.
Tigers, Sooners know each other
LSU and Oklahoma played two games last season with the No. 1-ranked Tigers sweeping the No. 6 Sooners in Tiger Park.
The Tigers won the first game 1-0 as Hoover outdueled Paige Parker. Both pitchers threw two-hitters, but one of LSU’s hits was a home run by Bianka Bell.
In the next game, Bell hit two homers, and Sahvanna Jaquish and Kellsi Kloss hit one each to support Walljasper as the Tigers won 10-2 in a game shortened to six innings by the mercy rule.
Senior day vs. Georgia
All five Tigers seniors played in the victory against Georgia.
In addition to Bell, Kloss and Sandra Simmons taking their normal positions in the starting lineup, reserves Jenna Kreamer and Alayna Falcon pinch hit.
Kreamer, who is from Shreveport, pinch hit for Kloss and led off the sixth with a single before being replaced by pinch runner Akiya Thymes, who later scored on a single by Constance Quinn.
Falcon, who’s from Donaldsonville, pinch hit for Amber Serrett later in the inning and struck out.
Been here before
LSU advanced to the semifinals of the WCWS for the third time in its five appearances and second time in two years.
The Tigers won three games in 2004 and went 2-2 last season, when it was eliminated by Michigan in the semifinals.
Finale for Browne, Fico
Former Zachary High star Katie Browne’s career came to an end when she made the final out, striking out against Hoover. Browne is a niece of LSU football coach Les Miles.
The Bulldogs loss also ended former Tigers star Rachel Fico’s first season as Georgia’s pitching coach.