Two hours after collecting her sixth win of the season, Carley Hoover trotted back out to the circle.
The sophomore right-hander inherited a messy situation — two runners in scoring position in the midst of a three-run fourth inning for Louisiana Tech. With 10 strikeouts under her belt from the LSU softball team’s mercy-rule shortened 8-0 win against Liberty earlier Saturday, Hoover picked up right where she left off.
She fanned the next two batters to escape the jam and shut down the Lady Techsters the rest of the way as the No. 5 Tigers rallied for a 9-6 win in Tiger Park. Hoover earned the win in both games, tossing a combined 19 strikeouts while allowing only two hits over 8.2 innings.
“When coach (Beth Torina) called on me, it was time to compete,” Hoover said. “I love moments like that. … I wanted to shut things down. When you’re in a relief role, you have to come in and stop the bleeding.”
Sophomore pitcher Allie Walljasper sat out the doubleheader with her arm wrapped, leaving LSU (18-2) with only three in the rotation. Torina didn’t specify Walljasper’s injury and said she wanted to be “conservative” with Southeastern Conference play starting next weekend.
Torina said the team “will get more answers” next week regarding Walljasper’s injury.
LSU will go for a sweep of its five-game weekend slate when it faces Tennessee Tech, which it beat 8-0 Friday, at noon Sunday.
LSU 8, LIBERTY 0: LSU struck for one run in each of the first two innings, first scoring a run on a single from freshman designated player Amber Serrett, who went 3-for-3 in the game.
One inning later, sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored pinch-runner Sydney Bourg.
Junior third baseman/catcher Sahvanna Jaquish blasted the first of her two home runs to lead off the third, in which the Tigers added three more runs. Senior catcher Kellsi Kloss chased Liberty pitcher Chase Cassady with an RBI double, but Sandra Simmons drove in another run two batters later.
“As a team, we talk about taking one pitch at a time and winning that pitch,” Jaquish said. “I think that was our focus today. It really worked for us.”
Meanwhile, Hoover notched her first win of the night behind 10 strikeouts. She struck out the side in the second and fifth innings, running into a jam only once.
After retiring the first seven batters she faced, Hoover issued a walk to freshman Deidra See. A two-out single gave the Lady Flames (8-11) runners on the corners, but LSU’s ace ended the threat with a called strike three on shortstop Sarah Robertson.
“Overall, in the first and second game, those were probably the best performances I’ve seen from (Hoover) this season,” Kloss said. “She’s such a big competitor, and I have so much confidence in her.”
Jaquish tacked on another run in the fourth inning with her second solo homer of the contest. The Tigers pushed across the two clinching runs in the fifth, starting with junior second baseman Constance Quinn’s RBI double to bring Simmons home.
Quinn scored the winning run when senior shortstop Bianka Bell lined to first baseman Katie Han, who couldn’t make the catch or tag her at home.
LSU 9, LOUISIANA TECH 6: After a routine run-rule victory to start the evening, the Tigers faced a bit of drama in Game 2.
The contest was scoreless until the top of the third inning, when freshman pitcher Sydney Smith allowed a trio of no-out singles. Tech (15-5) turned the baserunners into three runs via an RBI single and a rough chopper that ate up Serrett at shortstop.
LSU, however, got two runs back in the bottom half thanks in part to an error and a failed tag at home. But the Tigers’ momentum was short-lived.
The Lady Techsters scored three more runs in the top of the fourth, ending junior pitcher Baylee Corbello’s relief appearance. Two runs scored when junior right fielder Bailey Landry dropped a fly ball in deep right-field foul territory.
That’s when Hoover entered the game. She cruised through the Tech lineup, putting only two runners on base and striking out nine.
“She’s just phenomenal in those situations,” Torina said. “I think she kind of gets outside of herself. She loves to compete so much. When she goes out and competes and forgets about the rest of it, she’s pretty much unbeatable.”
LSU still had some work to do. Jaquish and Bell reduced the deficit to two with a pair of RBI hits in the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigers stranded two runners in scoring position.
After Hoover sent down Tech in order during the following inning, LSU’s offense finally came alive for five runs on four hits. Griggs and Landry both barely beat out infield singles to keep the inning going, and Kloss put the Tigers ahead with a bases-clearing double to centerfield.
“I just want to do whatever I can to get my team in a good spot to win,” Kloss said. “I would have taken a walk, a hit-by-pitch, anything.”
Hoover then slammed the door on the Lady Techsters by striking out two and inducing a routine fly ball to right field.
Torina said her team never panicked despite the deficit, and she and her players claimed Hoover’s calm demeanor in the circle helped get the offense back on track late.
“Talent will take you a long way, but winning ball games like that is what it’s really about,” the coach said. “Them showing that they’re able to do that is huge as we go down the stretch.”