BATON ROUGE, La. - No. 15 LSU (41-15) used five runs in the third inning and finished with 15 hits to cruise past Prairie View A&M (30-19), 12-2 in five innings Friday evening at Tiger Park.
"I thought our team played aggressively; they came out swinging," said Head Coach Beth Torina. "I love seeing what I saw from our offense. I thought they played free and set a tone for the first postseason game. Getting a win under your belt in that first one helps with the nerves and all of the things that go with playing in the postseason. I was happy with the effort. I was happy with how they kept swinging throughout. If that game wasn't the best-looking uniforms in all of the postseason softball, so much purple and gold all over the place, I don't know where you can find something looking better."
The Tigers' 15 hits mark the fourth time the team had 15 or more hits in a single game this season. LSU also matched its season high with 12 runs. Their most recent game with 12 runs came against NC State on March 31.
Sophomore pitcher Raelin Chaffin improved to 6-1 in the circle after striking out a season-high eight batters and allowing two runs on two hits and six walks in 5.0 innings of work.
Six Tigers finished the game with multiple hits. Junior infielder Taylor Pleasants had a perfect night at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Junior outfielder Ali Newland was also perfect from the dish, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and hit her sixth home run of the season. Junior infielder Danieca Coffey finished the night 2-for-2 while tying a career-high with three runs scored. The three other Tigers with two hits include junior outfielder Ciara Briggs, junior infielder Raeleen Gutierrez and sophomore outfielder McKenzie Redoutey. Graduate designated player Georgia Clark, along with Briggs and Redoutey, all tacked on an RBI.
Prairie View's pitcher Jerrica Rojas (11-3) picked up the loss in which she allowed seven runs on six hits in 1.0 innings of work. Sophomore pitcher Hailey Elizarraras entered the game in the second and pitched 1.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits before being replaced by sophomore pitcher Cailin Massey who allowed one run on three hits in 1.2 innings.
Prairie View A&M opened up the scoring with a solo homer to right field in the top of the first inning, but the Tigers responded quickly. They led off the bottom half with three straight singles from Coffey, Briggs and Pleasants before Clark knocked a sac fly to left field, which scored Coffey, and Briggs scored on a fielding error by the catcher to capture the lead. A couple batters later, Redoutey hit another sac fly to left field to score the third run of the game for LSU.
The Tigers struck again in the second on a lead-off home run from freshman catcher Maci Bergeron, the first of her career, to increase the lead 4-1. The bats stayed hot as Gutierrez followed with a single before an errant throw on a Coffey bunt brought her home and moved Coffey to second. In the next at-bat, Briggs laid down a bunt, giving LSU runners on the corners with no outs. Pleasants moved the on-base streak to five batters with a two-run single to push the Tigers' lead to 7-1.
LSU's offense continued to put the pedal to the metal, scoring five more runs in the bottom of the third. Gutierrez started with a single, and Coffey followed with a double to put both runners in scoring position with one out. A passed ball advanced both runners, and a fielding error on Briggs at bat scored Coffey. The next at-bat, Pleasants lined a double over the center fielder's head to give the Tigers a 10-1 lead. Two batters later, Newland crushed a two-run shot off the scoreboard to cap off the five-run inning for the Tigers.
The Panthers got back in the run column in the fourth thanks to an RBI double from junior infielder Rayna Lewis to cut into the lead, 12-2, but Chaffin retired five of the final seven batters after that to preserve the run-rule.
LSU will begin day two of the Baton Rouge Regional with a bout with UL-Lafayette at noon. The Ragin' Cajuns shut out Omaha 5-0 to open the regional Friday.