LEXINGTON, Ky. — Cold weather resulted in cold bats as the LSU softball team managed just one run on six hits in falling to the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats 3-1 on Friday evening in the series opener at John Cropp Stadium.
LSU (31-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) dropped its second Friday game this year.
The other Friday loss came at Florida.
The temperature was 40 degrees at first pitch, and Kentucky starting pitcher Kelsey Nunley didn’t allow LSU to capitalize on the chances it had early. The Tigers stranded five runners and didn’t score until the sixth inning, when they pushed across their only run.
A.J. Andrews went 2-for-3 to lead LSU. The first four hitters in the order earned hits, including Bailey Landry, Bianka Bell and Sahvanna Jaquish. Constance Quinn was the only other player to earn a hit for the Tigers.
The Wildcats (22-8, 2-5) scored twice in the bottom of the third and once more in the fifth.
Starting pitcher Allie Walljasper (9-1) suffered her first loss of the season. She allowed all three UK runs (two earned) on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk. The LSU defense also committed two errors.
Nunley nearly pitched a shutout but still earned the win by getting LSU to ground out 10 times and needing just two strikeouts to hold the powerful Tigers offense at bay for much of the day.
Griffin Joiner did much of the damage at the plate for the Wildcats, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a home run to put the home team up three.
After two innings of scoreless ball, Quinn stepped up to the plate and ripped a leadoff single to open the top of the third. After a strikeout, Andrews legged out a single and the resulting error allowed Quinn to move all the way to third.
With a chance to score, a fielder’s choice grounder by Landry resulted in Quinn getting caught in a lengthy rundown before being forced out at the plate with Andrews and Landry now at second and third. Unfortunately, a grounder to short ended the inning with the game still scoreless.
Kentucky, for its part, strung together a run themselves, as a single, error on a sac bunt and infield single loaded the bases with no outs. The Tigers were unable to get out of the inning completely unscathed, as UK brought in two runs on three hits to take a 2-0 lead.
Kentucky came back in the bottom of the fifth and got an insurance run on Joiner’s homer.
After falling behind three and with an out in the sixth, LSU tried to start a rally.
Bell legged out an infield single to reach first. Jaquish lifted a single to deep center that allowed runners to move to second and third, putting them in scoring position for the Tigers.
Kellsi Kloss flew out to center as Bell slid home, beating the throw to make it 3-1 for the only run of the inning.
The three-game series resumes at 11 a.m. Saturday.