The Tigers picked up four more wins on the weekend, thanks to another strong series from Shelbi Sunseri, who was a force in the circle and at the plate.
Offensively, Sunseri went 7-for-14 with six RBI and two home runs, scoring three runs. Sunseri now leads the SEC in RBI with 26 and is tied for the lead in home runs with eight. The Tiger sophomore also posted impressive pitching totals with 14 innings pitched, allowing one run on six hits and three walks striking out 12 in the process, lowering her ERA to 1.85 and her opponents batting average to .176, good for 10th best in the conference.
Amanda Doyle also had a good weekend. Doyle flexed her power potential with a two-home run, three RBI game in LSU’s 8-0 rule-run win over Cal State Northridge. She finished the weekend with four RBI and five hits. Aliyah Andrews was a force for the Tigers at the top of the lineup, with a hit and run scored in every game, going 7-of-13 and scoring five times.
Ali Kilponen bounced back after a tough outing last weekend, tossing a five inning, two hit, five strikeout performance. Both Shelby Wickersham and Maribeth Gorsuch posted overall good numbers, but both suffered mixed performances. Wickersham logged 8.2 innings allowing no earned runs on three hits with five strikeouts, but surrendered three unearned runs and took the loss in the Tigers 7-5 defeat to Stanford, in which LSU blew a 5-0 lead and surrendered seven runs in the seventh inning. The starter in that game was Maribeth Gorsuch, who was in the circle for 5.1 innings and allowed four unearned with three walks, two hits, and four strikeouts.
The loss to Stanford, highlighted what is a tad bit of concern for the Tigers: defense. LSU ranks fifth in the conference with 11 errors on the season. The Stanford game was an example of the sloppy defense combined with a still growing pitching staff, can lead to disaster. The Stanford game was the first example of such a combination. Not alarming, but worth keeping an eye on.
Of the five games this weekend, the two critical games were against Michigan, arguably the best team in the Big Ten, and frequent WCWS attendee. It was Sunseri and Wickersham who were the biggest reason success in the Tigers’ 2-0 and 2-1 victories over the Wolverines. The two wins provide further proof that, although untested, the Tiger staff has the ability to shut down top tier opponents.
With one more weekend of non-conference play, the Tigers appear ready to take on the SEC with limited question marks. One of those questions is the situation in left field. As of now it is a platoon between Elyse Thornhill and Claire Weinberger. Thornhill, the veteran, was LSU’s left fielder for a chunk of 2016, but has never offered much offensively. Weinberger was platooning with Taryn Antoine last year, before Antoine took over full time. This year Weinberger is four-of-fourteen. If not Thornhill or Weinberger, the freshman that makes the most sense would likely be Savannah Stewart, though she has just five at bats on the year.
The Tiger homestand continues with Kent St. on Tuesday, followed by five weekend games as part of the Purple & Gold Challenge.