Long balls lift LSU in doubleheader sweep

Coming off its first Southeastern Conference series win of the year at Ole Miss, the UK softball team was hoping to continue its recent success against No. 12 Louisiana State yesterday at the UK Softball Complex.

The Tigers had other plans.

LSU (31-10, 11-6 SEC) swept the doubleheader, leaving the Cats (15-24, 3-13 SEC) longing for the same type of offensive firepower the Tigers displayed at the plate. LSU scored 18 runs off 20 hits on the day, compared to just four runs and nine hits for UK.

“They’ve got speed,” head coach Rachel Lawson said of LSU’s first three hitters in the batting order, who she said were the catalysts of the Tiger offense. “Anytime you put them on base they have a good chance of scoring. The next two or three after them just make it rough.”

In the second game, LSU flashed major power at the plate. Home runs accounted for all but one of the Tigers’ runs in their 5-2 victory.

“LSU’s a very, very good team,” Lawson said. “Historically a top-10 team. We felt we played a decent game.”

The Cats held a 2-1 lead into the third inning before LSU’s Erika Sluss knocked a three-run homer over the right-center wall in the top of the fourth. Sluss contributed with seven RBIs for the Tigers between the two games — all on home runs. On top of the three-run shot, Sluss slugged a grand slam in the doubleheader’s first game.

UK tried to match LSU home run for home run. The Cats used two different two-run shots — sophomore shortstop Molly Johnson’s two-run blast in game one and freshman center fielder Meagan Aull’s two-run home run in game two — to try and keep  afloat. But the long balls were the only offensive production UK got all day.

“We were trying to string hits together,” Aull said. “We did better in the second game than in the first, but I guess we didn’t get enough.”

Though they scored just four runs all day, Lawson said she saw plenty of opportunities for the Cats to score in the second game. But unable to take advantage of them, UK could never overtake the Tigers.

“You can’t win in this league if you don’t capitalize,” Lawson said. “But we did a better job of hitting our pitch in game two.”

After battling the LSU to a 2-2 deadlock through five innings in the first game, things fell apart for the Cats. The Tigers came out roaring in the top of the sixth, plating 11 runs off UK sophomore starter Amber Matousek en route to a 13-2 win. All of UK’s runs were provided by Johnson’s two-run home run in the third inning.

The Cats return to action with a three-game weekend series against Arkansas at the UK Softball Complex. The first game of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.