STARKVILLE, Miss. — Sandra Simmons obviously wants to stick around to the end of her final Southeastern Conference softball tournament.
LSU’s senior first baseman had a key hit to spur a victory for the third consecutive day, blasting a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Tigers a 3-1 victory over Tennessee on Friday afternoon at Nusz Park. Seventh-seeded LSU’s 15th win in 16 games sent it to the championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday against top-seeded Florida or No. 4 seed Auburn.
Simmons hit a three-run homer to lead the Tigers (45-14) to a 3-1 victory against Kentucky in the quarterfinals Thursday, and she singled home the first run and scored the final run in a three-run seventh-inning rally that produced a 5-4 victory against Texas A&M in Wednesday’s first round.
Not to be outdone, sophomore right-hander Carley Hoover (18-7) got the win for the third consecutive game. She relieved Allie Walljasper in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs with the score tied. Hoover got a strikeout to keep it tied and followed with three scoreless innings, finishing with six strikeouts.
Hoover threw a three-hitter against Kentucky and allowed just one run in 4.1 innings of relief against A&M.
Volunteers starter Matty Moss (12-4) got the first two outs in the eighth before Emily Griggs bounced a single to center. Simmons looked at two strikes before driving an 0-2 pitch over the wall in straight-away center for her fourth homer of the season.
LSU took a 1-0 lead in the first when Bianka Bell drove a pitch near the top of the scoreboard behind the left-field wall. That was all the scoring until Walljasper had control issues in the fifth. She allowed a one-out single to Brooke Vines and, one out later, she walked Megan Geer and Lexi Overstreet. Walljasper then hit Shaliyah Geathers, forcing home the tying run. Hoover relieved and struck out Gretchen Aucoin to keep it tied.
LSU put a runner in scoring position for the first time when Sahvanna Jaquish doubled with one out in the seventh. Kellsi Kloss flied to the wall in left for the second out before pinch runner Akiya Thymes moved to third on a wild pitch. Walljasper struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.
Meghan Gregg led off the seventh for the Vols (41-14) with a double, but Hoover got a strikeout and two groundouts to strand Gregg at third.