The No.5 Tigers earned their first series sweep of the season, with four wins against Illinois State and Texas Tech as part of the Purple and Gold Challenge.
Friday’s contest against Illinois State did not get off to the best start for the Tigers after a fielding error by Taylor Satchell put runners at second and third and an error by Constance Quinn allowed both runs to score. The two unearned runs were the only blemish on a five inning, three hit outing for Sydney Smith who also struck out five.
Offensively, Beth Torina started Quinn in the leadoff spot for a third straight game and for a third straight game Quinn delivered going 2-3 with 2 RBI. The Tigers capitalized on the Redbird pitching with two, four-run innings. The third inning saw Kellsi Kloss hit a 3-run home run and Amber Serrett single in Bailey Landry. In the fourth, a Quinn RBI plated Sandra Simmons while another Kloss home run scored Bianka Bell and Quinn. LSU would eventually win a 10-2 run-rule game.
The next game, LSU found itself down 1-0 after, another, unearned run allowed due to a Sahvanna Jaquish fielding error. Jaquish made up for her error by going 2-for-4 with 5 RBI and her three-run home run in the fourth was part of seven runs scored in the fourth and fifth innings, allowing the Tigers to win 9-1 in five innings.
Late in the second game on Saturday, against Texas Tech, the Tigers looked like they had wasted an outstanding outing by Allie Walljasper who had surrendered two runs, one earned, and had struck out seven to that point. To make matters worse, Torina was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing pitch that was ruled a wild pitch that should have been a foul. LSU’s offense would awaken with two outs, Jaquish hit a game-tying, two-run home run. One inning later, Landry would end the game on a solo home run to left.
The final game of the series put to rest any doubt about the effectiveness of Carly Hoover. The sophomore struck out a career best FIFTEEN of the 21 batters faced, going the distance and surrendering just one earned run. A four run first inning by the Tigers, highlighted by a Jaquish home run and a 3-run shot by Landry, provided a bulk of the offense. LSU would secure the 5-3 victory and the weekend sweep.
If there is a negative takeaway from this series it is, once again, the sketchy defense. LSU added six more errors on the weekend, bringing the season total to 19. Of the 30 opposition runs allowed on the season, half have been unearned. Last season the Tigers had 70 errors on the season and it does not appear that total will be substantially decreased in 2016 if the current error rate keeps up.
Torina called #LSU softball's trend of errors a "mentality issue." Tigers have committed 19 errors (18 in the infield) for 15 unearned runs.— Marcus Rodrigue (@RodrigueAdv) February 28, 2016
On a positive note, it looks as if Torina has found her lineup. Quinn has had a hit in four of the five games since she was inserted as the leadoff hitter. Jaquish and Kloss are providing consistent power from the middle of the lineup. Bailey Landry has fielded in nicely in the six spot. Amber Serrett has locked up a spot in the lineup, but not necessarily in left field as Torina told Marcus Rodrigue.
The pitching, of course, continues to keep LSU in games and this rotation is looking deeper and deeper with each weekend as Smith and Bailee Corbello continue to provide quality outings.
From here the Tigers host an 11-4 ULM squad led by some solid pitching, before hosting the LSU Invitational where only one of the five invitees, LA-Tech, boasts a winning record.