LSU softball beats Louisiana Cajuns, faces Florida State in NCAA Tournament Super Regional
BATON ROUGE – LSU first baseman Georgia Clark vowed to help teammate Ali Kilponen get the run support she needed Sunday.
Clark did just that, delivering five RBIs as LSU rode her bat and Kilponen's pitching to beat UL 8-5 in the championship game of the Baton Rouge Regional.
The victory lifted the Tigers (35-20), the No. 7 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and No. 1 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional, into a Super Regional meeting at Tiger Park with Florida State (42-10-1), winner of the Tallahassee Regional and the No. 10 seed. Game 1 is Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN) in the best-of-three series.
The meeting Sunday was the second between LSU and UL on the day and the fifth between them this season.
Clark broke Sunday's title game open with a three-run home run in the fifth inning that made it 7-1.
“She (Clark) came up to me after the first game and said ‘I’ve got you better the second game,’ ” Klipponen said. “That was so cool, because (when) she got that hit, she looks at me and she said, 'I got you.' ”
“Ali had just come … a minute before and I said, ‘We’ve got your back, we’ve got your back,’ ” Clark added. “All day I told her, ‘We’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this.' ”
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LSU's win was its fourth over UL this year and second in three Regional matchups.
The Cajuns (47-12) forced the winner-take-all game with a 2-0 win over the Tigers earlier in the day.
“We wanted to come out and fight and show them we deserved to be there for that second game,” UL center fielder Ciara Bryan said.
Kendra Lamb threw a three-hitter for UL in the first game and Kilponen a four-hitter.
The same two pitchers started Sunday's second game. This time Kilponen (15-8) struck out five in a complete game.
“In hindsight we would have loved to have won the first game,” LSU coach Beth Torina said, “but the lesson we learned … is just so valuable.”
Lamb (17-5) lasted 2.2 innings.
After issuing a walk, she was replaced by Summer Ellyson with two out in the bottom of the third inning and LSU up 3-1.
For the second time against LSU in the Regional, Bryan opened with a leadoff home run. UL loaded the bases later in the first, but Kilponen struck out Kendall Talley.
Clark answered with a single up the middle that scored Ciara Briggs and Aliyah Andrews, and a solo homer to right by Taylor Andrews made it 3-1 LSU in the third.
“I saw it really well the whole day,” Clark said.
The Cajuns went three up, three down with three straight groundouts to second baseman Taylor Tidwell in the fourth. Aliyah Andrews scored again on Amanda Doyle's bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right in the fifth, and Clark followed one batter later with her three-run homer.
Bailey Curry delivered a two-run home run that also scored Alissa Dalton in the sixth, and UL tacked on two more runs in the seventh, but it wasn't enough to get the Cajuns back to a Super Regional for the first time since 2016.
How they got there
Lamb had five strikeouts in Sunday's first game, when Jade Gortarez doubled in Bryan and Kaitlyn Alderink in the third inning.
After opening Friday with a 10-2, six-inning run-rule victory over No. 4 seed McNeese, LSU got to Ellyson during a five-run first inning Saturday to beat UL 10-3.