Connie Quinn’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh snapped Tennessee’s 20-game winning streak and salvaged the final game of a series in which the Tigers lost twice.
Quinn’s homer came on the heels of some outstanding pitching on the part of Allie Walljasper. LSU’s pitching was atypically poor in the first two games, though Walljasper somewhat redeemed the rest of the staff. Walljasper went the distance allowing just one hit and striking out four. Quinn’s home run was one of just two Tiger hits on the afternoon. The defense was also spectacular, highlighted by an impressive catch over the LSU dugout by Amanda Doyle and a sliding outfield grab by Aliyah Andrews.
While Sunday’s game ended the weekend on a positive note, the first two days were not so pleasant. The Tigers pitching staff was unable to contain Tennessee, surrendering six runs in Friday and Saturday’s losses. Neither Carley Hoover nor Sydney Smith threw a complete game in either start. In fairness, the LSU defense wasn’t helpful, with two errors in Smith’s game leading to two unearned Vol runs.
Offensively, there were some positives to the weekend. LSU scored four runs against an SEC team for the first time since April 2nd. In Saturday’s game, LSU erupted for four runs in the first inning, something the offense needs to do to support the pitching staff. The new top of the lineup of Emily Griggs, Bailey Landry, Quinn and Sahvanna Jaquish was effective, with each player reaching base at least once in the first two games of the series. Amanda Doyle continued on a solid pace, with two RBI’s and reached base twice on Friday and Saturday.
Of course there are other negatives. After the four run outburst in the first inning on Saturday, LSU did not score a run and managed just two hits in the other six innings. Friday, the Tigers had just one runner reach second base from innings four to seven.
In some ways this weekend was an example of the worst case scenario for the Tigers: The pitching and defense doesn't hold and the offense is unable to play catch up. It seemed inevitable that there would be a letdown game for the pitching staff, where the LSU lineup could not carry the rest of the team. While the offensive totals seem solid, a little digging around the numbers reveal that the LSU lineup still has a long ways to go before it is consistently good.
The hope here is that the pitching staff’s rough outing was a combination of poor timing and a strong team in Tennessee. Ideally, this is not a sign of things to come or the rest of the season will be very, very bad.
If there is one takeaway from this weekend it is that LSU has likely cost itself any chance of playing any home games at Tiger Park during the postseason. Sitting at 16 in both polls, it’s going to take a lot to even host a regional. LSU is 5-12 against Top 25 teams with just one series win against a ranked team. Depending how the polls shape out, Tennessee might be the last series against a ranked team LSU faces this season. The Tigers do have the 12th ranked RPI nationally, but that figures to drop a bit after this weekend. Unless LSU can win its final seven games, hopefully a few by run rule, and have a notable run in the SEC tournament, the odds of playoff softball in Baton Rouge seems doubtful.
The Tigers have their final out of conference game of the season this week with South Alabama coming to Tiger Park on Tuesday.