The 2020 LSU softball season ended with a dominant 11-1 run rule victory over South Alabama, last Tuesday night.
In the circle, the Tigers were anchored by breakout sophomore Ali Kilponen who tossed five innings and struck out nine. She finishes the season as LSU’s leader in strikeouts with 49 and batting average against with .125. LSU’s staff as a whole finished top in the SEC in team ERA at .95 and batting average against, .156.
Freshman Taylor Pleasants continued her outstanding debut season going three for three with four RBI including a two-run home run. Her four home runs and 21 RBI both tie with Georgia Clark for most on the team. Clark had an RBI single in LSU’s 11-run fourth inning.
LSU also had a great day from Aliyah Andrews going three for three with a run scored and three driven in. Savannah Stewart went two-for-two with a two-RBI triple.
Since the Tigers didn’t even make it to SEC play, there is not a ton to take away from this season. It is beyond disappointing that Andrews, Amanda Doyle, Maribeth Gorsuch, Claire Weinberger, and Akiya Thymes may have played their final games with the Tigers.
Looking ahead, 2021 has a chance to be a really special year. Breakout seasons from underclassmen like Pleasants, Clark, and Morgan Cummins give the Tigers a young core to drive the offense. The Tigers will have at least three high caliber pitchers in Kilponen, Shelby Wickersham and Shelbi Sunseri.
Undoubtedly there is a disappointment to the way the season ended, especially given how promising things were looking for the program entering the new decade.
It was not that long ago that the future of the program was somewhat in doubt following the retirement of the most successful coach in program history, Yvette Girouard, only to be spurned by Patrick Murphy, who opted to return to Alabama, before the Tigers hired Beth Torina for the 2012 season.
There have been no compromises since Torina has taken over, far from it. She has four appearances in the Women’s College World Series including three straight from 2015-2017, recruited and coached the only four-time All-American in program history, Savannah Jaquish, and consistently fielded one of the best pitching staffs in the country. She had her 500th career win this season and saw the opening of a brand new exclusive practice facility, a rarity in softball.
The only thing eluding the team since Torina took over, and in the existence of the program, is a national championship.
Torina has taken the Tigers to heights most other programs would dream of. As she approaches her tenth year leading the Tigers, there is little doubt that the program has the tools, players and leadership to bring a title back to Baton Rouge.