The LSU softball team is heading to Oklahoma City for the third consecutive year after defeating Florida State 6-4 in the decisive game of the Tallahassee Super Regional. In a twist of the first two games where the Tiger pitching dominated while the bats were held in check, it was the Tiger lineup which powered LSU back to the Women’s College World Series.
The Tiger scoring effort began in the third inning when Sahvanna Jaquish hit a double that scored Aliyah Andrews and pinch runner Claire Weinberger, running in place of Sydney Springfield who had opened the inning with a walk.
After FSU cut the lead in half, LSU would load the bases with two outs for Emily Griggs. The Tiger centerfielder would tap a ball towards third which Florida State’s Jessie Warren was unable to field, scoring Shemiah Sanchez, who had led off the inning with a double. Jaquish would then single to center, scoring Aliyah Andrews and Amber Serrett.
While the LSU offense was clicking, the Tiger pitching staff was struggling with the Florida State lineup. Coming off a brilliant performance the day before, Allie Walljasper surrendered seven hits, two walks, and three runs in three and two-thirds innings, leaving in the fourth with runners on first and second and one out. Carley Hoover would come in and close out the inning, but walked a tightrope for the remainder of the game.
Hoover’s best work came in the sixth inning where she surrendered a hit and two walks to load the bases with no outs. FSU’s Warren would ground to Sanchez, who would come home with the throw for the first out. The next batter, Ellie Cooper would fly out to right, allowing Morgan Klaevemann to score, and making it a 5-4 game. Hoover would then induce Alex Powers to a ground out to end the threat.
Bailey Landry would give the Tigers a needed insurance run in the top of the seventh when she tripled home Nicky Dawson, who had pinch ran for Sahvanna Jaquish.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hoover allowed a single to Sydney Broderick and then threw a wild pitch moving Broderick to second. Carsyn Gordon would single, but heads up Tiger defense tagged Gordon out when she tried to go to second after Emily Griggs throw had missed the cut off, all while Leslie Farris, running for Broderick, remained on third. Cali Harrold would fly out to center, stranding Farris at third. Dani Morgan would hit a ball high and deep to left, but with enough room to allow Andrews to secure the catch and send the Tigers to Oklahoma City.
A shaky performance by the pitching does raise some eyebrows, but this game should be celebrated because of the offense. The Tigers had production coming up and down the lineup with only Connie Quinn being the only starter not reaching base. Jaquish would earn offensive MVP from this game with two hits and four RBI. Landry and Andrews also had two hits, with the later also scoring twice. Emily Griggs continued her hot postseason with another hit and an RBI.
After three stressful weeks, where a return trip to Oklahoma City was not guaranteed, the Tigers can take a moment to celebrate. Sunday’s victory gave Beth Torina her 400th career win as a coach. Landry broke the program records for hits with 291. Jaquish moved into 10th place on the NCAA All-Time RBI, now at 267.
LSU is scheduled to face UCLA as their opening around opponent when the schedule is finalized and soon the celebration will turn to preparation. In the meantime, the Tigers will cheer as they are exactly where they wanted to be back in February, going to the same city, to do the same thing: contend for a championship.