The No.10 Tigers opened the season in convincing fashion, alleviating concerns about the offense and pitching in a six-game sweep of the Tiger Classic, winning all six games by run-rule and outscoring their opponents 73-2 in the process, the highest scoring six game stretch in program history.
Although a number of Tigers stood out this weekend, the star would have to be Shelbi Sunseri. At the plate, Sunseri went 7-of-11 with four home runs and 14 RBI’s. In the circle she tossed ten innings of shutout ball with nine strikeouts on five hits and two walks.
LSU also got a strong performance from transfer Amanda Sanchez. The former Mizzou Tiger went 9-of-13 with seven doubles and nine RBI’s, drawing six walks in the process. Amanda Doyle had seven RBI and Elyse Thornhill had six RBI on the weekend. Aliyah Andrews showed her usual speed, stealing five bases in the series.
The Tigers were equally impressive in the circle. The best pitching performance went to freshman Shelby Wickersham, who tossed a no-hitter in her collegiate debut with two strikeouts. Fellow freshman Ali Kilponen tossed five innings of shutout ball on two hits and six strikeouts. Maribeth Gorsuch, the veteran of the staff, allowed two runs on two hits in ten innings of work.
Beth Torina did a fair amount of mixing of the lineups over the weekend, and the fluctuation did little to impede the Tiger offense. The few constants where Aliyah Andrews leading off, Doyle third, and Shemiah Sanchez in the third spot. Taryn Antoine spent three games in the second spot, while Amanda Sanchez and Amber Serrett also had a game each hitting behind Andrews. Shelbi Sunseri spent much of the series hitting under Shemiah Sanchez, though it will be hard to justify Sunseri hitting so low in the lineup if she keeps on her pace.
LSU’s freshman class also had an impressive weekend. Jordyn Perkins had a three-run home run, Georgia Clark went two-of-four with an RBI, Karrington Houshmandzadeh scored three runs and stole a base and Cummins went three-for-three with two runs scored and two RBI.
Even the defense played well, with just one error over the six game series.
If a complaint is to be found, it might be with Gorsuch, who walked five in ten total innings. The other three starters combined for just three in 20 innings.
It would be difficult to script a more perfect way to begin the 2019. LSU got production from one through nine in the lineup, while a relatively unseasoned staff dominated in the circle. If nothing else, the Tigers begin the season with six wins in convincing fashion and likely a solid level of confidence.
Confidence will be important as LSU faces what is likely its toughest weekend series of the regular season, at the St.Pete/Clearwater Invitational featuring 2018 National Champs and pre-season No. 1 Florida State, 2018 WCWS finalists No.25 Oregon, and matchups against tournament qualifiers, No.22 Oklahoma State, No.16 Texas, and Ohio State.