An eighth inning two-run home run by Sandra Simmons propelled the Tigers into the SEC Tournament finals with a 3-1 victory over Tennessee. The home run marked Simmons second home run in as many games and the senior has five RBI since the tournament began.
Leading up to the eighth inning, the Tiger offense had been mainly held in check by the Vol pitching with just two hits between innings two and seven. LSU’s first run in the game came when Bianka Bell homered in the first inning. Bell was the only Tiger to record multiple hits on the afternoon. The eighth inning had the makings of the prior innings, with Constance Quinn and Amber Serrett going down in order. Emily Griggs provided a little spark when she singled on the first pitch she saw. The next batter, Simmons, would crush a pitch to dead centerfield on an 0-2 pitch, putting the Tigers ahead.
As had been the case all tournament, the Tiger pitching was strong again Thursday. Beth Torina turned to Allie Walljasper. The sophomore hurler spent most of the afternoon working in and out of trouble surrendering five hits and four walks in four and a third innings pitched. The Vols had threatened in innings three and four with two runners reaching base in both innings, but both times Tennessee failed to score. Walljasper would load the bases in the fifth then hit Shaliyah Geathers, which scored Meghan Gregg and tied the game at one. Torina would pull Walljasper in favor of Carley Hoover. Pitching in her third game in a row, Hoover was outstanding again, going three and a third innings, striking out six and allowing just two hits.
With a chance at an SEC title on the line Saturday, it’s safe to say LSU has exceeded the expectations set entering the Tournament. However, considering where this team was viewed entering the regular season, this run isn’t all that surprising. The path might have been different, but the result is very similar.
The final game of the tournament is Saturday at 4pm against Auburn on ESPN.