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No. 14 LSU softball splits Monday doubleheader, takes opening SEC series against South Carolina
By Tyler Nettuno,
Editor’s Note: The following is an official press release courtesy of LSU’s athletics department.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – After dropping the first game of the day 4-2, No. 14 LSU responded with a 5-1 win over South Carolina in the nightcap to win its SEC opening series 2-1 Monday night at Carolina Softball Stadium.
“We have a goal of trying to win all the conference series,” said Head Coach Beth Torina. “This is a step in the right direction. Obviously, we let game two get away from us in some sports, but they had a pitcher who threw a good game against us so they definitely get the credit for that.”
LSU is now 22-2 overall with a 2-1 SEC record, and South Carolina moves to 22-4 and 1-2 in league play.
Ali Kilponen (8-0) lit up the circle in the nightcap, tossing nine strikeouts and allowing only one run on four hits in 7.0 innings of work.
“Ali did a great job of giving us a chance,” Torina said. “I thought she really controlled their offense and was able to keep them off balance. She did a really good job of setting the tone for our entire team.”
Graduate infielder Georgia Clark and junior outfielder Ali Newland both led the team with three hits and had one RBI while junior first baseman Realeen Gutierrez had a team-high three RBIs on the day.
Freshman pitcher Sydney Berzon (7-1) was charged with her first loss of the season, finishing with three strikeouts, zero walks, five hits and four runs in 4.0 innings. Sophomore pitcher Raelin Chaffin entered the circle in the fifth inning and allowed two hits and no runs through 2.0 innings of work.
South Carolina’s senior pitcher Donnie Gobourne improved to 5-0 after recording 10 strikeouts and allowed one run and four hits in 5.0 innings.
Junior outfielder Ciara Briggs led the Tigers in hits going 2-for-4 from the dish. Newland and graduate infielder Karli Petty tacked on a one-hit and one RBI in the game.
Clark led off the second inning with her fourth double of the season and Petty brought her home with an RBI single down the first base line to give LSU a 1-0 lead.
The Gamecocks fought back in the fourth frame, putting up four runs to take a 4-1 advantage. LSU cut its deficit to two runs in the sixth inning thanks to an RBI double from Newland, but the visiting club could not complete the rally as they fell, 4-2.
Kilponen collected the win in the nightcap, pitching a complete game which included nine strikeouts and allowed one run on four hits and three walks, retiring 24 of the 27 batters she faced. Kilponen went 2-0 with a pair of complete games this weekend.
Sophomore outfielder McKenzie Redoutey and Clark led the way offensively for LSU, both going 2-for-3 from the dish with an RBI while Gutierrez tacked on a team-high three ribbies. Newland added on two hits of her own to round out the Tigers with multiple hits.
South Carolina pitcher Karsyen Ochs (5-2) was credited the loss, tossing one strikeout with three hits and one run allowed in 1.0 innings.
For the third straight game, LSU got on the board first in the second inning. Newland led off with a single and advanced to third on a single from freshman catcher Maci Bergeron. Redoutey drove an RBI single through the right side to score Newland that gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage.
The Gamecocks evened the score in the bottom of the second, but the Tigers answered with another run in the third. Junior shortstop Taylor Pleasants got the inning going with a standup double with one out and Clark singled to advance her to third. Pleasants then touched home plate on a Gutierrez groundout to regain the lead, 2-1.
After four scoreless frames which included Kilponen retiring seven consecutive batters, the Tigers put up runs in the seventh stanza. Redoutey led off the inning with her second triple of the season. Two walks later, Clark drove in a run on a sac fly and Gutierrez followed with a two-RBI single to push the lead, 5-1.
Kilponen secured the 5-1 victory by retiring 10 of the last 11 batters to finish the game.
LSU will conclude its 10-game road trip with a 6 p.m. CT game at Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, March 15.