LSU’s freshman pitching tandem of Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper led the way as the second-ranked Tigers completed a series sweep in a doubleheader against Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon at Tiger Park.
Hoover (10-2) pitched a five-inning shutout as the Tigers run-ruled the Rebels 8-0 in the first game, and Walljasper (10-1) allowed just two runs (one earned) in an 8-2 complete-game victory in the second.
“You forget they’re freshmen sometimes,” said Kellsi Kloss, who caught Hoover and drove in five runs in the doubleheader. “Their presence is so strong. I know they’re going to give us a good chance to win, and I’ve got so much confidence catching them.”
The doubleheader was played before the second-largest home crowd in LSU softball history (2,694).
The Tigers (36-3, 9-3 Southeastern Conference), who won the series opener 5-2 on Friday, visit Mississippi State on Wednesday. The Rebels are 22-16 and 5-10.
“Carley and I talked after the first game,” Walljasper said. “She told me what was working against certain hitters and what wasn’t working. That helped me out a lot.”
The hitters helped a lot, too, as Kloss and Constance Quinn homered in the first game and A.J. Andrews homered in the second.
“Our job is to put runs up so our pitchers feel as comfortable as possible,” Kloss said.
Ole Miss took its only lead of the series when Alex Schneider squeezed home a run against Walljapser in the first inning.
Andrews’ first homer of the season leading off the third tied the score and sparked a Tigers rally against Madi Osias (6-9). Bailey Landry singled, Bianka Bell doubled her home and Sahvanna Jaquish singled home Bell for a 3-1 lead.
The Tigers increased the lead to 4-1 in the fifth on Kloss’ RBI single and the Rebels scored an unearned run in the sixth on pinch hitter Alyssa Invergo’s RBI single, but Walljasper stranded the tying runs when she struck out Courtney Syrett.
LSU broke it open in the bottom half on Bell’s bases-loaded walk, Jaquish’s two-run double and Kloss’ RBI single.
The Tigers — who lost two of three at Kentucky last weekend for their only series loss of the season — responded with a 4-0 week and are alone in second place, one game behind Auburn.
“We should have been better last weekend, but it was a nice wakeup call,” coach Beth Torina said. “We saw some things we need to improve on and that’s what we’re looking to do. If we continue to get better the results will take care of themselves.”
LSU won the first game behind Hoover’s three-hitter as Kloss and Quinn both drove in three runs.
The Tigers broke through against Lauren Lindsey (5-5) in the third as Kloss hit her sixth home run of the season with two runs on and two outs later Quinn hit her second homer.
Landry led off the fourth with a walk and Bell followed with a walk, finishing Lindsey. Dylan Supak hit a two-run double off reliever Kayla Landwehrmier, and Quinn added a two-run single.
Hoover struck out seven and did not walk a batter as LSU won for the 15th time by run rule.
“That’s going to make a difference later in the season,” Hoover said of the shortened games. “Getting out of there saved me two extra innings and that’s going to help a lot down the road.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.