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Softball Wins Two of Three on Opening Weekend

Shelbi Sunseri shines in the circle and at the plate

Minnesota Gophers open NCAA softball super regional with a victory over LSU. Photo by Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

The No. 5 ranked LSU softball team began its 2021 campaign at home in the Tiger Classic and finished with a 2-1 record. There was supposed to be a fourth day of the Tiger Classic Sunday, including LSU playing a doubleheader with Central Arkansas but inclement weather cancelled Sunday’s games.

Thursday LSU opened its season beautifully by run-ruling McNeese State 8-0. Shelbi Sunseri was virtually flawless, only allowing two hits in six innings while striking out six. Sunseri also helped out her cause with a 2-3 effort at the plate featuring a first-pitch, leadoff triple in the fifth and a solo home run to center field in the sixth.

Sunseri’s homer was the fourth of the day for LSU on Thursday. Taylor Pleasants and Amanda Doyle went back-to-back in the first inning, while Ciara Briggs hit a three-run shot to center in the fifth.

Friday was a different story for LSU as the No. 25 Duke Blue Devils upset LSU 8-4. Duke jumped on top of LSU early, scoring three runs in the first, added another three in the second and two more in the fourth. By the time LSU got on the board, the Tigers were in an 8-0 hole.

Ali Kilponen took the loss for LSU, giving up six runs—only one earned however—in 1.2 innings of work. Kilponen was let down by three LSU errors, one her own doing by making a throwing error to first base in the first inning. Briggs dropped a fly ball in the first inning and catcher Morgan Cummins was also tagged with an error.

But LSU would battle back and make the game closer thanks to Shelbi Sunseri’s second home run of the season. Sunseri hit a three-run shot in the fourth scoring Akiya Thymes and Georgia Clark.

Saturday LSU had to overcome a 3-2 deficit but rallied past Kansas to improve to 2-1 on the year. Sunseri was credited with the win, pitching 2.2 innings in relief of starter Maribeth Gorsuch.

Gorsuch had a rough go of things in her first appearance of the season, giving up three runs and five hits in 4.1 innings of work. But Sunseri came on and shut the door on the Jayhawks

LSU again used the long ball to its advantage, hitting three against Kansas. Briggs and Doyle hit their second home runs of 2021, while Clark hit her first. Doyle and Clark’s home runs came in the bottom of the fifth with LSU trailing 3-2.

With LSU’s games against Central Arkansas called off, the Tigers will have today and tomorrow off and will host Louisiana Tech on Tuesday and North Dakota on Wednesday at Tiger Park.