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Tigers top Aggies to open SEC play

Elyse Thornhill emerges as offensive force

Elyse Thornhill

The No. 10 Tiger softball team improved to 21-5 on the year and picked up its first SEC series win of the year, taking two-of-three from the Aggies in College Station.

In game one, LSU capitalized on an Aggie staff that entered the series with the worst team ERA in the SEC, run ruling A&M 17-3. Amanda Sanchez, Shemiah Sanchez, Elyse Thornhill and Michaela Schlattman each homered, with Schlattman going yard twice. Schlattman and Shemiah Sanchez had four RBI each. Amanda Doyle posted a double and drove in three. Maribeth Gorsuch got the start for the Tigers and posted a disappointing 2.2 innings allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. Shelby Wickersham closed out the game allowing just one hit in the relief appearance.

Thornhill and Amanda Sanchez stayed hot in game two, each homering and driving in three as the Tigers won 7-0. Shelbi Sunseri tossed a complete game shutout with two strikeouts.

The blemish of the weekend was a 6-5 loss in which the Tiger surrendered four unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. LSU’s defense was, in part, responsible for the big inning for the Aggies, with a passed ball and throwing error by Amanda Sanchez. Up til the fifth inning, Wickersham had held A&M in check and was credited with allowing just two earned runs out of five total. After allowing an RBI double that made the score 5-4, Ali Kilponen came in and surrendered a two-run home run. Utility player Kara Goff made her LSU pitching debut, throwing a scoreless inning and a third. The Tiger runs came on RBI’s by Sunseri and Thornhill, and Savannah Stewart scored off a double-steal.

Earlier in the week the Tigers topped Northwestern State 10-3 thanks to a home run from Doyle, two from Shemiah Sanchez, and Thornhill hitting her first collegiate home run, a grand slam. Sunseri and Kilponen combined for nine strikeouts.

The four latest games don’t reveal too much about LSU’s style of play that wasn’t known. The offense is great, the pitching is good, though suspect at times, and the defense is not a strength.

Individually, it is impossible to ignore what Thornhill has contributed offensively. After being a non-factor offensively for her first three years, she is hitting .333, slugging .630 with 18 RBI. Her contribution offensively is equally timely as it is impressive, with Taryn Antoine struggling.

The last four games, in which Antoine came off the bench, Beth Torina opted to slide Thornhill to right and insert Stewart into leftfield. In those four games, Stewart has gone six-for-nine with four runs scored.

The Tigers are back in Baton Rouge for a five-game homestand, highlighted by a weekend series against No. 4 Florida.