3 takeaways: LSU softball becomes only undefeated team in top-25 after home tournament

3 takeaways: LSU softball becomes only undefeated team in top-25 after home tournament
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A different side of LSU softball emerged in the Purple and Gold Challenge with offense not being its main superpower.   

In the previous 12 games, the Tigers continuously powered through opponents, showcasing extra-base hits and home runs. 

This tournament, up against Illinois, San Diego State, McNeese State and Louisiana Tech, LSU secured close wins with dominant pitching and an aggressive defense. The Tigers barely held off opponents, mostly by creating late-game runs. 

As non-conference tournaments end for LSU, the competition is bound to intensify, especially with the onset of SEC play.

“We’ve got to figure it out a little bit, going back to the drawing board,” head coach Beth Torina said. “But, at the end of the day, we found ways to win in all the ways.”

Now 18-0 after the challenge, No. 4 LSU is the only top 25 team undefeated. Here’s three takeaways from the Tiger’s sweep. 

Breakout freshman showed fierce performances. 

The story for LSU going into the 2024 season was the amount of depth and experience returned in the lineup. Every starting fielder was a junior or older until injuries surfaced. 

In the second game against SDSU, third baseman Danieca Coffey sprinted to make a diving catch on a popped-up bunt. Everyone in the stands was shocked, but it wasn’t from the great play made. 

Coffey collided with catcher Hannah Carson, and the park fell silent as she grabbed her knee in pain. Freshman Maddox McKee was now put to the test to fill some big cleats at third base. 

Replicating Coffey’s athleticism, McKee made leaping catches for outs that would’ve been foul balls. With a runner on third in the seventh inning against McNeese, she made the final out of the game off a ground ball to secure the 2-1 win. 

“The fact that she’s ready when her number is called … She popped right out and made one of the toughest plays to end the game last night,” Torina said. 

Over at second base, freshman Sierra Daniel was making double plays and diving catches. She became a starter this weekend after Karli Petty was out injured. 

Daniel excelled on both sides of the ball. As a slapper, she placed perfect bunts to advance runners. 

Torina has written the names of seniors Coffey and Petty in the lineup hundreds of times. 

She said it was tough not getting to do so this weekend, “but it feels better knowing you have a lot of quality backups … the freshmen are really talented.”

LSU’s offense lacked productivity, but its defense stepped up.

In LSU’s previous games, its top-notch offense dominated the highlight reel, but the Purple and Gold Challenge showcased another side of the Tigers’ skill set.

In their 2024 season, the Tigers have consistently put up high numbers to win games. 

19-0 against Memphis, 12-8 against Georgia Tech, 10-3 against Houston, just to name a few.

In its most recent tournament, LSU only had one 9-1 mercy-rule win against San Diego State. The other games lasted the full seven innings and were close-scoring matchups.

With the offense out of rhythm, LSU’s defense had to step up.

“As an offense, when you know you don’t have to put up 50 every game, it allows you to have a calm and confident at-bat,” left fielder Ali Newland said.

LSU proved on multiple occasions its ability to make the big plays. 

Before Coffey’s accident, she snagged two line drives to keep runners from advancing.

Raeleen Gutierrez backhanded a hard-hit ground ball down the first base line with ease.

Ciara Briggs started building a resume for her third Golden Glove, making a diving catch in center field to get the Tigers back on offense. 

Taylor Pleasants had a flawless weekend in the field. From routine ground balls to shots deep in the 5-6 hole, she didn’t miss a beat. 

Catcher Maci Bergeron did her part behind the plate as well, throwing out two runners on stolen base attempts.

These are just a few of the Tigers’ many exceptional plays. LSU’s defense appeared cohesive, only acquiring one error throughout the weekend.

LSU’s pitchers took control of each game.

In the Purple and Gold Challenge, the Tiger pitching staff combined to have 41 strikeouts and only 10 walks.

Raelin Chaffin, Kelley Lynch and Sydney Berzon showed their ability to control the game.

Berzon continued to be a safety net for the Tigers as both a starter and reliever. In her 15 innings pitched, she only allowed two runs.

“Sydney Berzon is one of the best in the country, maybe the best in my opinion,” Torina said. “There’s never a moment that’s too big for her.”

Lynch followed with another success story. In the Tigers first game against McNeese, she pitched six innings, allowing one hit and one run scored. 

Chaffin put on a show as well, finishing the weekend with a 1.81 ERA.

Despite these pitchers’ individual styles, they all have one thing in common. Each emphasized that they couldn’t do it without their defense.

“It gives me so much more confidence, knowing that I’m going to put my all on the line and they’re going to give that in return,” Lynch said. 

With the Tigers’ hot bats and confidence in the field, they now move to SEC play.

LSU will face Kentucky Friday, Mar. 8 in Lexington as their first conference opponent. 

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About Marc Lemoine 1916 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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