Amid first game jitters, senior pitcher Carley Hoover’s dominance on the mound brought No. 8 LSU to a 3-0 season opening win over Illinois-Chicago.
Hoover dominated on the mound, only allowing two hits and counting 12 strikeouts. She didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning, when she walked one batter.
“[Junior catcher Michaela Schlattman] was working real well for me,” Hoover said. “I trusted her behind the plate. She did great out there for her first outing and I’m excited to see what other catchers and pitchers do this season.”
LSU coach Beth praised Hoover’s ability to make it look easy against an Illinois-Chicago team that held their own throughout the game.
Behind Hoover, the rest of the defense was solid. Four new faces stepped on the field, including junior second baseman Becca Schulte, freshman Shelbi Sunseri, freshman Taryn Antoine and Schlattman.
Schlattman steps behind the plate following the graduation of former LSU all-American Sahvanna Jaquish and found a way to control the game and the team.
“I liked seeing the way the team competed,” Torina said. “Michaela did a great job behind the plate. It’s nice to see the freshman get some at bats. I’m sure they’d like to see some different results but every at-bat matters and every time they see the field, they’re going to be better.”
Both teams remained scoreless until the fifth inning when LSU broke it open with a series of sacrifice bunts.
“I think it was just a little bit of first game nervousness,” junior Shemiah Sanchez said. “Everybody coming out tight and scared to mess up. Soon as we got going I think it was pretty good.”
After Schulte walked, junior shortstop Amber Serrett bunted for LSU’s first hit of the game. Another sacrifice bunt by Sunseri put runners on second and third. Antoine then singled down the right field line to put LSU up 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
The Tigers took complete control of the game in the bottom the the sixth, scoring two more runs off an RBI groundout by sophomore Amanda Doyle and an RBI double by Sanchez.
“It was really fun to just mesh with everyone out on the field,” Hoover said. “I think opening night bring a lot of nervousness and jitters and it’s almost like we can play softball now. I’m glad that’s out of the way, we got the win and we can move on.”
LSU returns to Tiger Park on Friday to kick off the annual Tiger Classic against UT-Arlington at 5 p.m.