BATON ROUGE, La. — After sitting through nearly seven hours of weather delays Saturday afternoon, LSU softball squandered a 2-run lead and fell 4-2 to Louisiana-Lafayette in the second round of the Baton Rouge regional. ULL scored all of its runs in the fifth inning.
The Cajuns advanced to the championship round Sunday, while the Tigers need to win three games if they are to have any shot at reaching the Women’s College World Series for the third straight year. It’s the same road LSU took in 2015, and coach Beth Torina welcomes the challenge of doing it again.
“Of course we gave ourselves a harder road, but the hard is what makes this thing fun,” Torina said. “I don’t think it’s a very good story if we just cruise through this thing. You become legendary and leave your mark by doing things like this. That’s the attitude we’re going to take.”
ULL shortstop DJ Sanders’ opposite-field 3-run homer to right in the top of the fifth. On a 1-2 count, the nation’s home run leader cranked her 29th of the season to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 4-2 lead.
“DJ is a great hitter, and I just left it too good for her,” said LSU pitcher Allie Walljasper. “I just need to make a better pitch next time.”
Walljasper threw Sanders an offspeed pitch that tailed toward the outer half of the plate.
Though ULL was kept off the scoreboard for the first four innings, the Tigers played with fire for much of the game. The Cajuns had 2 runners on base in each of the first three innings, but Walljasper worked out of each of those jams. She was not as fortunate in the fifth against the potential national player of the year.
“The same pitch I hit out, I swung and missed at it twice,” Sanders said. “Staying locked in and being able to adjust during the at-bat was my goal.”
Turning point II
LSU was poised to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth when Emily Griggs bunted runners to second and third to set up LSU’s top two hitters, Sahvanna Jaquish and Bailey Landry.
Cajuns pitcher Alex Stewart found a way out of it, forcing Jaquish to pop out to second base before striking out Landry to end the scoring threat.
Ride out the lightning
The teams sat out a 1-hour, 47-minute lightning delay in the bottom of the first. The break didn’t hamper freshman Amanda Doyle, who drove home Jaquish with a two-out RBI double in the first at-bat after the game resumed.
That wasn’t the only time Mother Nature intervened. A second lightning delay cleared Tiger Park as the teams took the field for the fourth inning. That delay, which included a pair of torrential downpours, lasted long enough for the teams to take a drive to Florida if they had desired. The Tigers and Cajuns went 4:42 between pitches.
Once again, LSU showed no immediate rust from the delay. Walljasper recorded her first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the fourth.
“I don’t know that it was an effect on us, to be honest,” Torina said. “I don’t know that you can blame it. Both teams were given the same set of circumstances. So everything was fair about it. Of course neither team would have liked to go through it. It wasn’t ideal, but it is what it is.”
What’s next for LSU softball?
The Tigers will play McNeese State at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in an elimination game.