Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: Keonte Herrera
BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 18 LSU (7-0) swept opening day of the Tiger Classic in dramatic fashion. Freshman pitcher Alea Johnson (2-0) tossed her first career shutout in an 8-0, five-inning victory over Ohio (2-3), and shortstop Taylor Pleasants walked off Utah (5-2) in the seventh inning with a three-run home run Friday at Tiger Park.
LSU has thrown a shutout in three of its seven games this season to go along with four run-rules. Pleasants registered The Fighting Tigers first walk-off home run victory since Shelbi Sunseri did it against Drake in February 2022.
“That’s why they call us Fighting Tigers,” said Head Coach Beth Torina. “If we’ve got outs left, we’ve got breath. We’ve got a chance and I think we showed that.”
Pleasants continues to be a force at the dish, going 4-for-8 with seven RBIs on the day. Infielders Ciara Briggs, Danieca Coffey and Karli Petty all recorded three hits on the day. Briggs and Coffey also led the team in runs scored with three apiece.
Johnson pitched the first shutout of her career against the Bobcats, where she threw a complete game, logging three strike outs while only allowing three hits in five innings.
Pleasants went 2-for-4 from the plate and recorded a season-high four RBIs. Outfielder Ali Newland had her second multi-RBI game this season with two RBIs in the game. Outfielder McKenzie Redoutey tallied five total bases on two extra-base hits, including a triple and a double.
This game marked the third time this season the Tigers totaled 11 or more hits in a game.
LSU got on the board in the second inning. Petty led off the inning with a double, setting up Newland’s RBI single. After Redoutey hit the Tigers second double of the frame, outfielder Savannah Stewart brought Newland home on a sac fly to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the third. LSU immediately followed its two-run effort with another run in the third inning thanks to a sac fly from Newland that plated infielder Georgia Clark.
The Tigers continued their offensive dominance in the fourth inning. Pleasants lined a two-RBI single straight up the middle, bringing in Coffey and Briggs to increase the Tigers margin, 5-0.
Pleasants hit her second two-RBI single of the game to begin the fifth inning, and Clark crossed an insurance run to complete the run-rule for the Tigers.
Ali Kilponen (2-0) started the game against Utah where she put in 3.2 innings and tallied one strike out before freshman Sydney Berzon (2-0) came in relief with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. Berzon finished the game throwing 3.1 innings and allowed one run in the come-from-behind victory.
Pleasants stole the show once again, going 2-for-4 from the plate with three RBI’s all coming on the walk-off homer. Coffey and outfielder Raeleen Gutierrez tied Pleasants for the team lead in hits with two, while both also tacked on an RBI.
Utah strung together three runs through the first three innings, but the Tigers were able to respond in the bottom of the third with two runs of their own. Gutierrez drove in Redoutey with the first triple of her career. Coffey came up to bat next and hit a RBI single to cut into Utah’s lead, 3-2.
The Utes were able to score one run in the top of the fifth, but once again the Tigers answered. After Coffey singled, Briggs battled at the plate by fighting off 11 pitches before ripping an RBI double into right field to make the score 4-3, Utah to end the fifth inning.
After holding Utah scoreless for the final two innings, Gutierrez hit a leadoff single through the right side and was pinch ran for by freshman Maia Townsend. With one out, Briggs reached on a fielding error to put runners on the corners. Pleasants stepped into the batter’s box next, and with a 1-0 count, she sent a moonshot to deep center field, giving the Tigers their first walk-off of the season, 6-4.
It is the Tigers first walk-off home run victory since Shelby Sunseri did it against Drake in February 2022.
LSU will face off against Central Arkansas at 4 p.m. and Utah at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Tiger Park.