Strange thing are afoot at the softball circle.
First things first, Saltzman has some unexpected life conflicts right now, so you are stuck with me doing the softball recap. I know, nobody wanted this. We here at ATVS apologize for the sudden decline in softball article quality. He will be back soon. Until then, y’all are stuck with me.
LSU entered the SEC softball tournament in a precarious position. LSU was ranked in the top 16 in the RPI, but #21 in the polls, and the Tigers’ recent play hardly merited a national seed. LSU was just 5-10 in its last five SEC weekend series, playing its way down to the sixth seed in the tournament. For the obvious reasons, not much was expected.
The nice thing about a large conference is that it gives a middle of the pack team like LSU a game to catch its breath and get its bearings. LSU started the weekend against 11th seeded Missouri. LSU needed that chance.
LSU blew a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, as Mizzou rallied back to tie. However, in the bottom half of the inning, LSU bounced right back as Savannah Jaquish smashed a grand slam to put the Tigers up 6-2. They would need the entire cushion, as Missouri would stage a furious rally in the seventh inning, requiring Allie Walljasper to come back in to the circle and save a game she had started. LSU would feel lucky to escape with a 6-5 win.
The Tigers’ weekend was supposed to end the next day, as LSU faced host Tennessee, the #7 team in the country. After struggling in Game One, not much was expected of LSU. The game started much the way everyone thought, as Tennessee dinked and dunked its way to a 2-0 lead after three innings. The, the LSU offense caught fire thanks to some Tennessee miscues, and LSU rallied for two runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth. LSU would cruise to a 6-2 win behind Walljasper’s complete game.
And now, we were off to the races. It just takes one upset to spark a run through the tournament, and the spark turned into a wildfire against persistent nemesis, Auburn. Auburn beat LSU in the SEC title game last year, and now tried to repeat the feat, just one round earlier.
LSU spent most of the game clinging to a one-run lead established in the second inning. But then the Tigers offense exploded for five runs in the fifth innings, and LSU eased in to what seemed like an easy 6-0 laugher. Auburn never seriously threatened.
OK, the magical run came crashing down on Sunday, when the Tigers lost to the hated Rebels from Ole Miss, 5-1. Ole Miss got up early, and extended the lead late. It was never really in doubt. So for the second consecutive year, LSU softball are the SEC tournament runners up. Sure, it’s a bit of a dubious distinction, but the run was exactly what these Tigers needed, as the NCAA announced LSU as a national seed when it unveiled the bracket. LSU will host this weekend as the #13 national seed, paired up with the Tallahassee regional for the trip to Oklahoma City.
It wasn’t a fairy tale, it was just a hard earned series of wins which brings LSU one step closer to a return trip to the WCWS.