Maribeth Gorsuch was LSU’s secret weapon in winning last weekend’s NCAA regional softball tournament victory, and she might have been the most unlikely hero.
Gorsuch had a bumpy first season as the team’s most experienced hurler, but she was credited with snapping the Tigers out of the doldrums of a five-game losing streak. Her opening game shutout against Monmouth sparked the Tigers throughout the tournament, and she won the decisive contest against Texas Tech with another strong effort.
Gorsuch is likely to play the same role when LSU goes to Minnesota this weekend looking for a trip back to the Women’s College World Series after three trips there in the past four years.
LSU will play the Gophers in the super regional beginning at 4 p.m. Friday on ESPNU; 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2; and 3 p.m. Sunday, if necessary, on ESPN.
Control was the issue for Gorsuch, a junior from Lewisville, Texas. Her .199 batting average by opponents and seven shutouts are best on the team, but she’s walked 68 batters in 102 innings — an average of 4.7 per seven innings — with a team-high 14 hit batters. She raised her record to 13-3 and has a 2.54 earned run average.
Against Monmouth, she contained her wildness with only one walk and zero hit batters while allowing five hits and striking out five. It’s what coach Beth Torina had been waiting for after losing stars of the circle Allie Walljasper and Carley Hoover.
“We talked to her a lot about being only one pitch, one moment from greatness,” Torina said. “She did not necessarily have the year she wanted, but to get two of the three wins in the regional shows how talented and how close she was all the time. This is still her first season. She will be big for us this weekend and have a chance to write plenty of history for LSU.”
Gorsuch saw significant action in her first two seasons, with 26 appearances and 20 starts. But in 2019, she's taken the lead on the staff and looks comfortable leading her teammates to Minnesota.
“I’m super pumped up,” Gorsuch said. “We had a good weekend in the regionals practicing hard. I’m super excited to see what is in store for us. I know if we play the way we played last weekend we have a chance of winning.
“We took a step up. We fought harder than we have all season. We forgot about those last five games. There wasn’t one time I doubted our team.”
Gorsuch said her season has been an education, especially in trust.
“The key was to trust — my teammates, my coach, myself, my catcher,” Gorsuch said. “My goal was to not only show passion and energy but trust.
“Yeah, I had some low points, some games I could have done better and struggled. It was a learning experience. Every player has a point in the season where they struggle. It’s something I’m not too worried about. I’m just looking ahead to this next weekend.”
Her teammates credit her with giving a lift the team overall. She’s stepped up before through adverse situations. She overcame a ghastly injury in high school when she took a line drive to her face, which fractured her eye socket and cheekbone.
“She stepped up,” said second baseman Shemiah Sanchez. “She’s the junior and the leader on the pitching staff. It was good to see that.”
Said catcher Michaela Schlattman: “We know she’s going to give us that fire on the mound. Her pitches were working so well and I think her confidence elevated the team’s confidence and it helped our bats explode.”