On a night when the LSU softball team’s normally hot bats were as dreary as the weather, its pitchers picked up the slack.
The Tigers managed only five runs on 10 hits during Tuesday night’s doubleheader against Longwood in Tiger Park, but they came away with a pair of wins behind shutouts from right-handers Sydney Smith and Baylee Corbello.
LSU (21-2) won the first game 4-0 before grinding out a 1-0 victory in Game 2.
“Coach always says you can’t always play your absolute best, but you’ve got to find a way to win,” sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs said. “Tonight in the second game, Baylee Corbello pitched a great game. We relied on her, which was great to see.”
LSU 4, LONGWOOD 0: The Tigers were beneficiaries of two illegal pitches that allowed junior second baseman Constance Quinn to score after she drew a leadoff walk in the first inning.
The third inning proved more fruitful for the Tigers, who opened with back-to-back hits. Junior third baseman Sahvanna Jaquish walked, prompting Longwood (9-7) to yank its ace, junior left-hander Elizabeth McCarthy, after only two innings.
Reliever Sydney Gay walked in a run, and senior catcher Kellsi Kloss stretched LSU’s lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Tigers added an insurance run when junior right fielder Bailey Landry smacked an RBI double in the fifth. An inning later, the squad squandered a one-out, runners-on-the-corners situation when Griggs was caught stealing and senior shortstop Bianka Bell grounded out.
LSU managed only five hits, going 3-for-13 with runners on and 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
“You’ve got credit to their pitcher,” Griggs said. “She did a great job of moving the ball and hitting her spots. We produced runs where we could.”
Smith (5-0) cruised to a five-hit shutout after she tossed five perfect innings Friday. Two of the hits were infield singles with close plays at first base, and the freshman overpowered the Lancers with eight strikeouts.
“I was just hitting my spots and making good pitches,” Smith said. “I was putting pitches in good spots so my defense could make a play.”
Then it was Corbello’s turn in the circle.
LSU 1, LONGWOOD 0: After giving up a leadoff triple, Corbello induced a flyout and struck out the next two batters to wiggle free of a jam. She then retired 10 straight batters until she plunked shortstop Emily Murphy in the top of the fourth.
Corbello (5-0) finished with 6.2 scoreless innings and a season-high 11 strikeouts, several of which came via changeup.
“I would say (this was my best performance this season),” Corbello said. “But whenever you have a defense like ours that keeps the errors to a minimum, you don’t have to have 10 strikeouts a game to win.”
Sophomore Carley Hoover picked up her first save of the year after Corbello gave up a two-out double in the seventh.
LSU again struck in the first inning, with Bell plating Quinn on an RBI double. But the team continued its struggles at the plate for the rest of the night, managing only four more hits — two of which were bunts — while leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and going down in order in the second and fifth.
The Tigers stranded eight runners, equaling their total from Game 1. Periodic showers and a breeze blowing in from the outfield made the conditions less than favorable, but coach Beth Torina said the fault was with her team for not adjusting to the elements sooner.
She also credited McCarthy, who started both games and surrendered only four runs and eight hits in eight innings.
“Their pitching staff, their numbers coming into tonight’s game will show you that they have really solid arms,” Torina said. “They’ve done a good job holding other SEC teams to similar numbers. They have a really solid team.
“I thought our team played some decent softball, and we’re happy to walk away with two wins.”