LSU softball team blows past McNeese in NCAA Tournament's Baton Rouge Regional opener

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE – With a strong wind blowing in from center field early on, it appeared as if home runs would be impossible when No. 1 seed LSU opened Friday against McNeese at the NCAA Tournament's Baton Rouge Regional.

But Tigers third baseman Amanda Doyle quickly dismissed that notion.

Doyle delivered a two-run shot to right-center field in the first inning, then followed with a solo home run to right in the fifth inning of LSU's six-inning 10-2 run-rule win over the Cowgirls at Tiger Park.

Pitcher Shelbi Sunseri (10-6) had a two-run home run of her own in the fourth, and Jordyn Perkins ended it with a two-RBI double off the wall in right center.

With the wind having shifted a bit to right, Sunseri hit her homer off the scoreboard in right. There, similar to Doyle's two blasts, the stiff breeze was blocked by LSU's multi-story indoor practice facility.

LSU Ali Newland, left, looks on as Shelbi Sunseri (27) and  Raeleen Gutierrez (55) chest-bump after Sunseri hit a two-run home run that also scored Gutierrez in the fourth inning against McNeese during an NCAA college regional softball game, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

Being familiar with McNeese helped too, as did an improved approach at the plate. LSU opened its season with an 8-0 win over the Cowgirls.

“We pretty much knew how they were going to approach us,” Doyle said, “and what they were going to throw us.”

“This year we’ve had a lot of issues with popups and timing hitting the long ball, and it not working for us,” Sunseri said. “So we came back and we started working on … barreling things up hard.”

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The Tigers did just that.

“Even our outs were loud today, which was nice to see,” LSU coach Beth Torina said.

How LSU did it

LSU head coach Beth Torina looks on during an NCAA college regional softball game against McNeese, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

Sunseri allowed just four hits.

Doyle's home run, which also scored Taylor Pleasants, gave LSU a 2-1 lead, and the home run by Sunseri, which also scored Raeleen Gutierrez, made it 4-1.

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McNeese got one back in the fifth, when Chloe Gomez scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Jill Poullard. But Doyle answered to put the Tigers up 5-2.

Doyle's home runs runs were her ninth and 10th of the season.

LSU tacked on five more runs during a sixth inning in which Gutierrez and Georgia Clark had RBI singles before Perkins ended it by scoring Clark and Akiya Thymes.

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What's next

The victory advances LSU (33-19) to a winners bracket game Saturday (2 p.m.) against the winner of Friday night’s game between No. 2 seed UL and No. 3 seed George Washington.

Southland Conference Tournament-champion McNeese (34-25) moves to a losers bracket game later Saturday.