LSU softball team hopes to stay on late-season roll in SEC tournament this week

LSU softball team hopes to stay on late-season roll in SEC tournament this week
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The LSU softball team picked up a surge of momentum with a series victory against Georgia last weekend. Another small boost in the Southeastern Conference tournament wouldn’t hurt with NCAA tournament seeding just around the corner.

Despite finishing sixth in the conference standings, the Tigers (40-14) are in a strong position to be one of six SEC teams hosting a regional next week. The Tigers can nail it down with a victory or two in the tournament that opens for them Wednesday against No. 11 seed Ole Miss (29-25) at 10 a.m. at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A victory puts LSU in the quarterfinals against No. 3 seed Auburn at 10 a.m. Thursday.

D1Softball projects LSU as a regional host based on the Tigers’ outstanding No. 6 RPI ranking and the third-toughest schedule in the nation. The Tigers moved up four spots from 15 to 11 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, the highest ranked SEC team other than No. 4 Tennessee.

“I think it’s a huge momentum shift for us,” LSU senior pitcher Ali Kilponen said. “Georgia is a great all-around team. I think it’s great, to go into the SEC tournament, that we are that good and that we can go a long way and try to win it.”

Winning the tournament has proved elusive for an LSU program that owns the most tournament wins (45) and has won the title five times. But the last tournament championship was in 2007. The Tigers are 2-4 in the last four tournaments and haven’t made the finals since 2017.

A good start would be taking down an Ole Miss team that beat LSU in the series opener in Oxford, Mississippi, before the Tigers won the last two games March 24-26. The Rebels won the first game, 5-1, while LSU bounced back with 2-0 and 3-1 victories. The Rebels finished 11th with an 8-16 SEC record.

Outfielder Whitney Tate leads Ole Miss offensively with a .323 batting average. Second baseman Keila Kamoku is batting .301 with seven homers and 22 RBIs, and the top power hitter is outfielder Mya Stevenson with 12 homers and 34 RBIs.

The Rebels top pitcher is Catelyn Riley, who returned from injury to beat LSU in the first game of the regular-season series. She threw 4⅔ innings and allowed one run on five hits before Makenna Kliethermes finished with 2⅓ innings of scoreless relief.

LSU freshman pitcher Sydney Berzon won the next two with complete games, throwing a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the second game and allowing one run on five hits in the finale.

LSU also might see the Rebels’ Anyslie Furbush (8-6, 2.14 ERA) in the circle.

LSU’s offense has been sparked of late by catcher Ali Newland, who went 7 for 10 against Georgia, and outfielder McKenzie Redoutey, who knocked in five of LSU’s 12 runs in the series. She had a two-run single in a 2-1 victory in the second game.

Berzon (13-7, 1.76 ERA) has become the staff ace, but the depth behind her and Kilponen (13-6, 2.12) has blossomed. Freshmen Alea Johnson and Emilee Casanova and sophomore Raelin Chaffin combined to hold Georgia to one run on six hits with two innings each. Georgia’s only run scored on a wild pitch in the first inning.

“This was about showing ourselves that we’re good enough to do this,” LSU first baseman Georgia Clark said of the series win against Georgia. “I think we needed this confidence boost going into the postseason.”

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About Marc Lemoine 1340 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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