After two wins in three days against Florida, the LSU softball team returned to Tiger Park on Wednesday to take a 4-1 win in a nonconference matchup with Lamar.
LSU got runners on base often but struggled to get them across the plate in most innings — and in fact, the Tigers' only runs came in the bottom of the third. But that was enough for a win.
“I think it was the fatigue and the midweek and the shortened week,” said LSU coach Beth Torina, whose team finished the Florida series with a win Monday. “It was an issue today, and it shouldn’t be. I hate making excuses for them, but I did not think they showed up as well as they could have.”
While the Tigers were sluggish at the plate, freshman pitcher Ali Kilponen had a night to remember. She pitched seven innings with season-high 12 strikeouts, allowing just three hits in the win.
Kilponen's 12 strikeouts are a team high for LSU this season.
“I felt really good. I worked really hard this past week coming from Texas A&M,” Kilponen said, referring to a March 10 relief outing in which she didn't record an out and took the loss. “I was looking at my form, and I had some things I had to work on. I worked with coach Beth and coach Allie (Walljasper) on emphasizing and fixing the little things like mechanics.”
Kilponen had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning, but she said she didn’t even know. Torina credited Kilponen for her individual preparation following the tough outing at Texas A&M.
The LSU offense gave her the run support she needed to, exploding for four runs in the third.
Outfielder Tayrn Antoine reached on error, outfielder Aliyah Andrews bunted for a single and third baseman Amanda Sanchez walked to load the bases. Antoine tagged up on Amanda Doyle’s long flyout to give LSU a 1-0 lead.
Outfielder Elyse Thornhill just missed a home run over the fight-field wall but settled for a two-run double. Shortstop Amber Serrett drove her in with an RBI single to give LSU a 4-0 lead.
Thornhill went 2 for 3 with a double, a single and two RBIs.
“She did a good job of swinging in the zone — she swung at strikes,” Torina said. “She did a really good job of being ready and capitalizing on pitches over the plate.”
Kilponen gave up three straight singles to start the sixth inning to load the bases, but she managed to get out with minimal damage.
After walking in Lamar’s first run of the game, Kilponen forced three goundouts to end the inning with LSU leading 4-1.
“I think just needed to slow it down a bit,” Thornhill said. ‘We kind of got ahead of ourselves. We’ve got minor things that we’re going to work on tomorrow and be ready for Georgia this weekend.’ ”