Tigers Claim First Road Series at Tennessee with 7-4 Win
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After taking the first game of the weekend on Friday, the No. 1 LSU softball team was on the cusp of doing something it had never done before on Saturday, and after scoring four runs early, produced some insurance scores late in holding off the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers in a 7-4 win Saturday afternoon to claim its first ever series in Knoxville in program history.
LSU (38-4, 11-3 Southeastern) scored early and often, jutting out to a 4-0 lead over Tennessee (29-11, 7-7), and after seeing the Vols cut the advantage to just two, the Tigers used a key, three-run frame thanks to a UT miscue to pull ahead and thwart the comeback attempt by Tennessee in the later innings by holding the home side to only two runs down the stretch.
Leading the way for LSU at the plate was Constance Quinn, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored, including a big two-run home run in the fourth to give the Tigers that four-run lead on her third long ball of the season. The three runs driven in tied her career high, as the team finished with eight total hits coming from the bat of seven different players throughout the lineup.
Allie Walljasper earned the start and pitched 3.2 innings for LSU in the circle, allowing two unearned runs on five hits with four strikeouts, as Kelsee Selman (8-0) came on in relief with runners on the corners, and got out of the jam with a fly out and went on to pitch the next 3.1 innings, earning the victory by allowing two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
Both teams committed two errors, but LSU was able to capitalize on them at key times, as UT starter Erin Gabriel (12-5) suffered the loss after giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in three innings. Her replacement in Gretchen Aucoin pitched the next four and allowed three runs, only one earned, on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Shaliyah Geathers was the only UT player with multiple hits going 2-for-4, while Tory Lewis drove in two runs on her only hit of the day to lead the Volunteers at the plate.
After earning the game's first hit in the opening frame, Kellsi Kloss drilled a shot to deep center that was misplayed out in the field, resulting in a two-base error to get the leadoff batter in scoring position. An interference call and a strikeout made it seem as if the LSU designated player would be stranded with a chance to strike, but that's when Quinn stepped up and ripped a single that allowed Kloss to come home and slide in under the tag to score and give LSU a 1-0 lead.
After a fly ball out to left in the third inning, Bianka Bell stepped up to the plate looking for her first hit of the weekend and got it in a big way, taking the second pitch of her at-bat and launching one off the scoreboard in left center for her 13th home run of the season for a 2-0 LSU lead.
In the bottom of the third inning, Walljasper earned a strikeout and got the next batter to ground out to third, but back-to-back two-out singles put two on for the Volunteers for the first time all day. Looking to hold on to the two-run lead, she got the next batter to ground out to third to end the threat and the inning.
Looking for a little insurance, Jenna Kreamer put down a perfectly place bunt down the third base line to reach first easily, as that insurance came in the form of a Quinn bomb to straightaway center to drive in two and give LSU a 4-0 lead over the Vols with no outs on the board at that point in the frame.
Tennessee finally broke through in the bottom half of the fourth, as a two-base error put a runner on second base to open the inning, with a single up the middle next to bring in that runner to make it 4-1. A hit batter put two on, as a fly out to Griggs in left and a grounder to Kreamer at third put runners at second and third with two outs not on the board.
A single to right scored another to make it 4-2, ending the day for Walljasper in favor of Selman with runners at the corners. Fortunately for the Tigers, she came in and got the final batter to fly out to center to end the UT inning.
After a scare in the fourth, LSU led off the fifth with consecutive walks to Sahvanna Jaquish and Kloss putting two on for LSU. Sandra Simmons stepped up to the plate and put down a bunt single to the circle, with the resulting throw getting past the defender covering first which allowed Jaquish to come around and score to make it 5-2 with Kloss at third and Simmons at second.
Dylan Supak came on to pinch hit as she hit a deep enough ball to right to score Kloss on the sacrifice fly give LSU a 6-2 lead. Quinn drew a walk to put runners at the corners, as Quinn danced around before taking off for second, as the throw to catch her allowed Simmons to move and score to make it 7-2 Tigers.
A solo home run by UT's Annie Aldrete in the bottom of the fifth was the only run for the Vols in the inning, as LSU took a 7-3 lead into the final two innings of the contest. UT refused to quit and got another run in the bottom of the sixth, but LSU got a big play from the outfield by Bailey Landry who threw out a potential runner from right as the Vols would only bring in one to make it 7-4, going down in order in the final frame as LSU went on to win.
LSU will close out the series with Tennessee on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. at Lee Stadium. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.