No. 14 LSU Takes on South Carolina in SEC Opening Weekend
BATON ROUGE, La. – It is opening weekend for SEC play and No. 14 LSU will have its first three-game series of the season against South Carolina at the Carolina Softball Stadium in Columbia, S.C. March 11-13.
The series will begin at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 11, and game two will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 12. The series will conclude with a 6 p.m. CT contest on Monday, March 13. All three games will be televised on SEC Network with Mark Neely and Michele Smith calling the action. Fans can also tune in with Patrick Wright – the voice of LSU softball on the LSU Sports Radio Network on 107.3 FM in the Baton Rouge area.
The Tigers are 20-1 this season and are currently ranked No. 14 in the NFCA and USA Softball national polls. LSU also comes in at No. 3 in the first batch of RPI rankings.
On the diamond, LSU ranks No. 4 in the SEC with a .342 batting average, has the league’s fourth lowest ERA at 1.71 and ranks No. 6 in the conference with a .975 fielding percentage. The Tigers have outscored its opponents 139-40 this season and has five players batting over .350 and two over .430 with 15 or more hits in at least 40 at bats. In the circle, LSU ranks No. 3 in the SEC and No. 11 in the NCAA with eight shutouts on the year.
Graduate pitcher Ali Kilponen leads the pitching staff with 44 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched. She is 6-0 in the circle with a 1.58 ERA and has tallied three shutouts and three saves this season. Kilponen currently ranks No. 10 all-time in the program’s history with 50 career wins and is 28 strikeouts shy of breaking into the top 10 in career strikeouts as an LSU pitcher (currently has 406 career strikeouts).
Freshman pitcher Sydney Berzon is 7-0 on the rubber and ranks No. 6 in the SEC with a 0.63 ERA. Berzon has 42 strikeout and allowed just five runs (four earned) and 11 walks in 44.1 innings of work.
Junior infielder Danieca Coffey leads LSU with a .471 batting average 33 hits (No. 2 in SEC). Coffey currently has scored 19 runs, batted in 15 runs, two home runs and a .542 on-base percentage. Coffey also leads the team with 45 assists.
Junior shortstop Taylor Pleasants enters SEC competition ranked No. 2 in the NCAA with 32 RBIs and is batting .358 behind 24 hits, eight home runs and 18 runs scored. Pleasants ranks No. 4 in the LSU record book with 37 career home runs and No. 9 all-time with 150 career RBIs.
Junior outfielder Ciara Briggs bats .435 and leads the team with 24 runs scored (No. 3 in SEC). Briggs’ 30 hits rank No. 4 in the conference and is currently on a 12-game hitting streak. Briggs also leads the team with six stolen bases and five doubles.
Graduate infielder Georgia Clark has a .396 batting average with 21 hits and an SEC-best 19 walks. Clark has five home runs this season and has 17 RBIs. The Texas native ranks No. 6 all-time 35 career homers and No. 8 all-time with 108 career walks. Clark leads the team with a .556 on-base percentage and has a .736 slugging percentage.
LSU is 51-17 all-time against South Carolina and are currently on a five-game winning streak. The Tigers have also defeated the Gamecocks in seven of the last eight meetings.
South Carolina enters league play with a 21-2 record and is on a seven-game winning streak. The Gamecocks have logged three consecutive shutouts and currently has a No. 35 RPI.
South Carolina has a .330 batting average as a unit and leads the SEC with 42 doubles and has 63 stolen bases this season. The Gamecocks also lead the league with a .982 fielding percentage.
Senior pitcher Donnie Gobourne leads the pitching staff with a 0.98 ERA and has 57 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched. Gobourne is 4-0 in the circle and has four saves to lead the SEC to go along with three shutouts. Gobourne has relinquished 18 hits 10 walks and five runs. Gobourne leads the NCAA in strikeouts per seven innings (13.9 K/seven innings).
In the batter’s box, sophomore infielder Brooke Blankenship leads the way with a .431 average and 22 hits. She also has 17 RBIs and scored 13 runs. In addition to Blankenship, South Carolina has a total of eight players with a .300 batting average or better with at least 37 at bats.
LSU concludes its 10-game road trip with a midweek game at Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, March 15 before hosting its SEC home opening series against Tennessee March 17-19.
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For the latest news and information on Tiger softball, visit www.lsusports.net/softball. Fans can also follow the team on its social media outlets at www.facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsusoftball on Instagram and Twitter.