Tigers bounce back to take softball series from Bama _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- The LSU softball team surrounds home plate to celebrate Kellsi Kloss's, left, home run during LSU's softball game against Alabama held at Tiger Park on March 13.

As one hit followed another in the 40-minute sixth inning Tuesday night, all the LSU softball team could do was laugh.

Most of the players and coaches had never been a part of anything like it before. The No. 4 Tigers used 14 hits to score 15 runs — 10 of which came with nobody out — in the inning, sealing their 30-8 drubbing of Louisiana Tech and rewriting the program record book.

“It was honestly so much fun,” sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover said Wednesday. “With each home run we were laughing, like, ‘How many could we hit?’ It was kind of ridiculous how good our offense is.”

LSU might need that offense more than ever this weekend.

After winning their first true away game of the season, the Tigers will continue their road trip with a three-game series against No. 11 Texas A&M beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday in College Station, Texas.

The Aggies (25-2, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) boast a powerful offense of their own, one that leads the league with 43 home runs and ranks second in runs and slugging percentage.

The series will feature a 3 p.m. first pitch Saturday and a 12:30 p.m. start Sunday.

“Texas A&M has a great offense. Their game is, they’re going to go and swing big,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “But I think we’ve proven we can swing right with them.”

The Tigers (24-3, 2-1) more than proved that Tuesday, shattering program single-game records for hits (27), runs scored (30), at-bats (48), total bases (56), home runs (seven) and RBIs (27).

Seniors Kellsi Kloss and Bianka Bell, who was recently named the SEC and National Player of the Week, set individual school records by launching three homers each — three of which came during that explosive sixth inning.

Both players said the growing lead relieved them of any pressure at the plate and credited their teammates for putting them in good spots.

“I guess the term ‘hitting is contagious’ is really true,” Kloss said. “Obviously we want to score as many runs as possible, but if you would have told me we would have scored 30 last night, I probably would have said you’re a little crazy.”

LSU’s everyday players didn’t do all the heavy lifting against the Lady Techsters.

Thirteen of the 16 Tigers who recorded an at-bat managed at least one hit, and senior third baseman Jenna Kreamer went 4-for-5 at the plate while making only her fifth start of the year.

But as LSU mounted its lead and gave its reserves some playing time, Torina wasn’t marveling at the broken records or having a laugh along with her players.

She was pondering the potential matchups against Texas A&M.

“Honestly I was thinking about the weekend and what hitters were going to be a factor this weekend that needed some at-bats,” the coach said of her reaction to the sixth inning. “Making sure that we had people that needed at-bats in that game so they could be prepared for the weekend.”

That’s how concerned Torina is about the Aggies’ powerful lineup that features the SEC’s leading home-run hitter, sophomore shortstop Kristen Cuyos. But the presence of big bats in Texas A&M’s order won’t change anything the Tigers do on the mound, Hoover said.

“I pretty much always attack people,” the sophomore ace said. “They’re a good offense, so we’re just going to have to pitch to our strengths and their weaknesses.”

Torina has already spied one weakness in the Aggies.

Despite going 4-1 in non-conference games against ranked opponents, Texas A&M hasn’t played an SEC series this season. LSU already has a series win in league play — against No. 6 Alabama, at that — under its belt, which Torina acknowledged gives her players, especially the freshmen, a slight advantage in what may be a run-happy series this weekend.

“I think the way we felt last weekend (against Alabama) was very different than how we had felt in some of the other games when we had played some ranked teams and big opponents,” she said. “A&M has played a very good schedule. They’ve traveled and been battle-tested for sure.

“But I do think there’s something about playing in the SEC that feels a little different.”