Looking to turn the tide and split the series with No. 8 Auburn, the No. 6 LSU softball team got another standout pitching performance but couldn't find the offense it needed in falling 1-0 Saturday night in Tiger Park in game two.
After being held to just two hits the previous night, LSU (43-10, 14-9 Southeastern) earned five in this game, easily outhitting Auburn (46-8, 18-5) who had just one, but over the course of the game stranded 10 runners on base, finding it tough to get anything going with runners on.
"We just swung at pitches out of the zone all night long and I just think we've got to do a better job of being disciplined at the plate and swinging at strikes," head coach Beth Torina said. "I didn't think we were very productive in key spots at the plate and honestly that's our own fault for swinging at pitches that were not strikes at the time."
Freshman Allie Walljasper (13-4) suffered the loss, but did so in one of her more dominant performances in holding the powerful Auburn offense to one hit with three strikeouts and two walks. Walljasper had a no-hitter through 3.2 innings before giving up the first and only hit to Auburn in that very next at-bat.
"I was trying to throw quality pitches," Walljasper said. "I knew how good of an offense they were and I came in with a different mentality, I knew that I had to get the job done."
Emily Griggs and Sandra Simmons had four of the team's five hits, with senior A.J. Andrews having the other, as Griggs went 2-for-2 with a stolen base, while Simmons went 2-for-3. LSU was the beneficiary of six walks in the game, with Andrews and Sahvanna Jaquish receiving two each.
"I think we were just pressing a little bit too much," Griggs said. "We weren't really focusing on what we could do, but tomorrow's a new day so we'll see a whole new team."
Auburn's Lexi Davis (20-2) earned the win by pitching five innings and allowing three hits with three walks, while Rachael Walters (2) earned the save by pitching two innings and allowing two hits with three walks and three strikeouts. The only hit Auburn needed came from the bat of Haley Fagan and her solo home run in a 1-for-2 day with an RBI and run scored.
One swing of the bat for Auburn snuffed the no-hit bid and the scoreless drought the game saw through the first three, as Fagan took the first pitch she saw over the fence in left to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth.
For the third time in the game, LSU led off an inning with a single as Griggs drilled one through the left side to put one on for the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth. She stole second to get into scoring position, as Andrews drew a walk to put two on and no outs. Unfortunately, a strikeout and an inning-ending double play ended the threat for LSU.
In a testy bottom of the sixth, a walk to Jaquish put one runner on, as after that play a lengthy discussion went on between the umpires and coaches about a possible substitution issue that eventually led to nothing changing. Kellsi Kloss was hit on the first pitch of her at-bat to put two on, as Sandra Simmons put down a bunt single to load the bases for the Tigers.
With a chance to strike, things turned sour as a fielder's choice grounder to first led to Jaquish being put out at the plate, as a liner to third helping turn a double play ended the inning.
Griggs opened the crucial bottom of the seventh with a single to left to reach first, with a walk to Andrews putting two on for LSU. After a strikeout, a fly ball to left put LSU on the brink with one out remaining, as a swinging strikeout ended the game as Auburn claimed the series.
"I think we've just got to have a little bit better at bats. I think we've got to be more disciplined and we've got to have more guts," Torina said. We've got to be able to execute and ultimately we've got to fight harder. Fight harder for our season, harder for Tiger Park, harder for our own team and I just think we've got to have more guts tomorrow."