Not even a shuffled lineup could slow down the LSU softball team Tuesday night.
Despite playing without three of their top four hitters, the No. 5 Tigers overcame a slow start to snag an 8-0 mercy-rule victory against Louisiana-Monroe in Tiger Park.
Senior Bianka Bell and juniors Sahvanna Jaquish and Constance Quinn, who combined for 43 of the team’s 101 RBIs heading into Tuesday’s game, were all absent from the lineup.
“We were just getting some looks at some kids,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “I thought the ones that we asked to play tonight really stepped up.”
The Tigers (14-2) got key hits from three reserves as Bell and Jaquish sat out for the first time. Sophomore Sydney Bourg and seniors Jenna Kreamer and Alayna Falcon, who had two hits among them this season, combined to drive in six of LSU’s runs.
But it took a while for the bats to get going. ULM junior pitcher Melanie Coyne kept the Tigers in check early, allowing only three baserunners and one hit through the first three innings.
“A lot of it was us swinging out of our plan,” Kreamer said. “Our first at-bats, we didn’t really stick to our plan. The second go-round, we really bought into our plan and you could see the numbers change.”
While LSU struggled at the plate early, freshman pitcher Sydney Smith (3-0) excelled in the circle.
She tossed a two-hit shutout, using only 68 pitches to dispose of the Warhawks (11-5) in five innings. Smith didn’t allow a base runner in the final three innings, and she retired the final 10 batters she faced.
“I thought there was much more improvement from my last outing,” the freshman right-hander said. “But I felt like I trusted in myself more. ... I think getting the experience (in my previous starts) helped a lot.”
The Tigers finally got on the board in the fourth inning, striking for six runs via four hits, three walks and one error. After junior right fielder Bailey Landry and senior catcher Kellsi Kloss reached base with nobody out, senior first baseman Sandra Simmons placed a perfect sacrifice bunt in front of home plate to advance the runners into scoring position.
Freshman shortstop Amber Serrett drew a full-count walk in the next at-bat, bringing Falcon to the plate. The senior designated player, hitless in her previous four plate appearances, sparked LSU’s offense with a two-RBI double on a 3-2 pitch.
Falcon said she felt the pressure of the moment but didn’t let it hinder her at-bat.
“I thrive in those pressure situations, so I took advantage of the pitch that she threw me and got a double,” Falcon said. “I saw a lot of inside (pitches), which she jammed me with on my first at-bat. I tried to adjust to that in my second at-bat. I knew that it was coming inside, so I hit the inside pitch.”
Kreamer followed that up with an RBI-single — her first of the night — and Falcon brought the score to 4-0 when she reached home on a fielding error. Sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs drew her second walk of the night before Bourg blasted a two-run triple to cap the big inning.
The Tigers didn’t record an out in the fifth inning while stringing together three hits to seal the deal. Kreamer finished the game with a game-ending blooper to center field that scored Simmons.
“It was so good to see them succeed. ... It’s nice to get everybody some work as we’re going into only being a week-and-a-half out of SEC play,” Torina said of her reserves. “We’re making sure we have a really deep lineup and that everybody is prepared.”