Tigers Sweep NC State To Win Road Softball Series
RALEIGH, North Carolina – LSU for the second straight weekend swept a doubleheader after losing the series opener, defeating North Carolina State, 2-1 and 13-2, Saturday night at Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Stadium.
Taylor Tidwell hit her fourth home run of the season in the top of the seventh inning to push No. 15 LSU to the first game win and then run-ruled the Wolfpack in the second game after six innings. LSU scored multiple runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to put away the second game.
Ali Kilponen and Shelbi Wickersham both picked up complete game victories for the Tigers.
“I think it’s fun to have a day like this because you get to see a lot of different people contribute,” Coach Beth Torina said afterwards. “Lot of people throughout the lineup, different pitchers on the mound and a lot of people contributed to the success of the team today. I think Aliyah Andrews was big in this game. Ciara Briggs was incredible all weekend long and that’s two weekends in a row where she has carried us. It’s cool to see her do the little things. Taking an extra base here, dropping a bunt there as well as the big swings. It’s the little things that make as big a difference as the big swings.”
In regard to her team’s pitching this weekend, Coach Torina said: “I was really proud of the pitching all weekend. I thought Shelbi Sunseri had a really solid performance (Friday) too. I thought the entire pitching staff threw well. I thought Ali Kilponen was really able to keep them at bay and then Wickersham is so different from Ali it set her up to have success.”
LSU is now 26-14 heading to a three-game SEC series next weekend at Kentucky, while NC State falls to 22-13.
LSU was able to get long home runs by Gutierrez and Briggs to get the lead for good against the Wolfpack in the nightcap of the doubleheader.
Gutierrez’s home run into the trees past the right field fence came an 0-1 count and opened the scoring in the second inning to give LSU a 1-0 lead. For Gutierrez, it was her second home run of the season.
After NC State scored two in the bottom of the inning to take the lead, 2-1, The Tigers regained the lead in the top of the third. Andrews reached on an infield single and then Briggs took a 0-1 pitch over the right center field fence to give LSU a 3-2 lead.
It was Briggs’ fourth home run of the year.
LSU expanded the lead in the fourth inning against reliever Sydney Nester who came in for starter Abby Trahan after the Briggs homer. Like the first game of the doubleheader which she started, Nester had trouble with the strike zone and after hitting opening batter Morgan Cummins to start the fourth, proceeded to walk Taylor Tidwell.
Danieca Coffey hit a ground ball to the right of third which got past the third baseman and time shortstop Randi Farricker got to it there was no play at any base, loading things for the top of the LSU order.
Andrews then proceeded to draw a walk which scored Cummins. Briggs then walked to drive in Tidwell and Pleasants grounded to third which scored Coffey with the final run of the inning that put LSU up 6-2.
LSU scored three more in the fifth after walks to Tidwell, Andrews and after a pitching change by NC State, a third walk to Briggs to load the bases. Taylor Pleasants took an 0-2 pitch and drilled it to the wall in right center for a double, clearing the bases and upping the LSU lead to 9-2.
LSU loaded the bases with no out in the sixth thanks to three straight singles by Gutierrez, Shelbi Sunseri and a bunt singles by Morgan Cummins. One run scored on a short sacrifice fly that scored pinch runner Taryn Antoine from third and then Andrews hit a triple to the left that scored two more runs. Andrews scored when Farricker missed played a ground ball to make it 13-2.
Wickersham upped her record to 5-3, getting her second complete game of the season.
Both teams were able to scratch a run over in the first inning, both on sacrifice fly balls.
In the top of the first inning, Briggs hit a one-out single on a 3-2 pitch and NC State starting pitcher Sydney Nester had trouble finding the strike zone, loading the bases on eight pitches after the Briggs single.
NC State elected to change pitchers, bringing in lefthander Estelle Czech. The first batter she faced, Gutierrez hits a fly ball down the left field line that was caught. Briggs scored from third as the throw was caught off and for the second straight night the Tigers led, 1-0.
Kilponen walked the leadoff hitter Angie Rizzi. Rizzi stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by Sam Russ. Logan Morris then hit a sacrifice fly of her own to left field and Rizzi beat the throw to the plate to tie the game at 1-1.
At that point the game developed into a pitcher’s duel between Czech and Kilponen. The first threat for LSU came in the fourth when Gutierrez walked and then Savannah Stewart singled to put runners on first and second. But LSU could not move the runners any further and the inning ended with the score still at 1-1.
NC State hit two singles in the bottom of the fourth but Kilponen got Tayana Forbes to strike out and Madeline Curtis to fly out to left field to end that threat.
LSU had a chance in the top of the sixth inning after Gutierrez was able to reach on an infield single and then advance to second on an error by Czech. But the lefty for the Wolfpack struck out the next two batters to end that threat.
In the top of the seventh, Tidwell was the leadoff hitter and she took a belt high 1-2 pitch over the right field fence to give LSU the 2-1 lead.
Kilponen went the distance and after a lead off walk in the fifth retired the last nine hitters. Kilponen ran her record to 11-5 while Czech took the loss to fall to 2-2. Kilponen allowed just two hits, the one run, with two walks and eight strikeouts.