Allie Walljasper needed one more out to escape the seventh-inning jam and secure the win.
She had been in this situation before.
The sophomore pitcher had previously pitched her way around two base runners in the third inning Wednesday night against South Alabama, just days after she twice came on in relief to save the LSU softball team from worse jams at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
So Walljasper did as she had done before, firing three straight strikes to curt short South Alabama’s late rally.
Walljasper turned in her best start of the season and senior first baseman Sandra Simmons blasted two doubles as the Tigers defeated the Jaguars 5-0 in Tiger Park.
The pitcher tossed a six-hit shutout and struck out eight batters to notch her second win of the season.
“Allie has been really solid for us,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “I think she’s throwing really well right now and has done a great job for us the last few times she has been out there. Another great performance tonight against a good team. We’re just lucky to have her right now.”
A few days after knocking off two ranked opponents in Palm Springs, California, the Tigers (9-2) had a bit of a slow start against the Jaguars (6-4).
USA sophomore pitcher Devin Brown kept LSU check in the first two frames despite walking two batters and giving up a pair of infield singles. The Tigers stranded four runners during that span, going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Walljasper faced her thickest jam of the night in the top of the third inning when the Jaguars got two runners aboard via a one-out infield single and bunt. The sophomore responded by striking out sophomore shortstop Kristian Foster and inducing a pop-up to end the inning.
“I was just trying to go out there and hit my corners as much as the umpire would let me,” Walljasper said. “I was focusing on where the batters were and making sure I hit my spots.”
Senior shortstop Bianka Bell finally put LSU on the board in the bottom of the inning, crushing an RBI double down the left field line to score sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs. Bell reached home moments later when senior catcher Kellsi Kloss singled up the middle for her team-leading 14th RBI of the season.
The Tigers tacked on three more runs in the fourth, two courtesy of a double by junior third baseman Sahvanna Jaquish.
Simmons hit a ground-rule double before junior second baseman Constance Quinn singled and stole second base, putting two runners in scoring position for Jaquish. She scored one batter later when USA freshman left fielder Haleigh Lane botched a fly ball on the run.
“She kept that riseball down and it still had the spin, so we were kind of under it,” Simmons said of Brown’s early success. “But we made an adjustment to lay off that pitch and hit what was lower in the zone.”
LSU threatened again in the next two innings but stranded a pair in each frame. The Tigers left 10 runners on base and hit only 5-of-17 with runners in scoring position.
Walljasper walked two batters in the final inning but slammed the door with her eighth strikeout of the night. Though she surrendered six hits, only two left the infield, and Torina held a lengthy meeting with her infielders following the game.
“That’s something we need to work on. It’s a challenge I’ve given to the infield,” Torina said. “We need to do some things differently in practice, and I need to prepare them differently. I think we can be better there.”