"We're right back in it," LSU coach Yvette Girouard said of the tight SEC race. "We just have to bring the same kind of intensity we did this weekend every time out. That is what it is going to take to accomplish goals."
Game One: LSU 6 Alabama 2
Paced by a career day at the plate by shortstop Lauren Delahoussaye and yet another solid performance in the circle by Kristin Schmidt, LSU defeated Alabama 6-2 to take game 1 of the series.
The Tigers jumped on Crimson Tide start Erin Wright (11-3) for two early runs in the first inning. After LaDonia Hughes led off the game with a slap single into left field, Wright retired Lauren Castle and Leslie Klein, bringing Delahoussaye to the plate.
The sophomore shortstop from Lafayette deposited a 0-1 pitch from Wright over the left field wall to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Delahoussaye's bat struck again in the third inning. After back-to-back one-out singles by Castle and Klein, Delahoussaye lined a pitch into the right field corner easily scoring Castle. A throwing error by right fielder Ashley Courtney allowed Klein to score to extend the LSU lead to 4-0. Castle finished out the LSU scoring an inning later with a two-run single to give the Tigers a 6-0 advantage.
Girouard was happy to see a complete performance from her team.
"We hit the ball well in game 1," Girouard said. "We made adjustments throughout the game. Our pitchers did what they needed to do, but what I'm so proud of is our defense."
Finishing the game 3-for-4, Delahoussaye tied her career-high for hits (3) and runs driven in (3).
"What a total day she had," Girouard said of her sophomore shortstop. "She is just becoming very clutch for us. She's delivering in that clean up spot for us. Good for her because she is a good person that always keeps her head up as well as her teammates.
Delahoussaye credited her work early in practice as the key to her success at the plate.
"Everyone was on her," Delahoussaye said. "We did a really good job in practice. We practice seeing the curve ball and the screw ball. We just came into the weekend really prepared."
While the Tigers bats erupted for six runs and 11 hits, Schmidt (17-4) was again magnificent in the circle. The Houston native picked up the complete-game victory, allowing only two runs on six hits. Schmidt struck out six and only walked two.
"Schmidt pitched really well," Girouard said. "You have got to give a lot of credit to Alabama's offense. They are a very good hitting team and any time you can hold them to two runs it's good. You know that you are going to have to outscore them."
Game Two: LSU 9 Alabama 6
Behind a pair of home runs by Stephanie Hill and the hot-hitting Delahoussaye, LSU took defeated Alabama 9-6 in game 2 to sweep the double-header.
Once again the Tigers jumped out to an early first-inning lead, pushing across three runs in the first inning. After a single by Hughes and a double by Castle to lead off the game, they both scored on a double off the wall by Klein. Klein scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
After the Crimson Tide pushed across a single run on an RBI groundout by Staci Ramsey, the Tigers immediately answered their next at-bat with a pair of runs. After Hughes reached on an error, Tide starter Jennifer Wright retired Castle and Klein, but Delahoussaye's bat continued to torch Alabama pitching as she launched a two-out home run over the left-field wall to push the LSU lead to 4-0.
Delahoussaye struck again two innings later with a two-out RBI single scoring Hughes. Hill would push the lead to 8-2 when she took a Stephanie VanBrakle pitch over the center-field fence for her ninth home run of the season.
Delahoussaye, Hill and Wiese had outstanding games at the plate in the night-capper, going a combined 5-for-11 with two home runs and five runs driven in.
"When we were sizzling early in the season, that's who was getting the hits," Girouard said. "That's because they were all protecting each other and that definitely has to come back for us."
Despite giving up six runs in six and a third innings of work, Girouard was pleased with the continued improvement of freshman Emily Turner (12-3) in the circle.
"We are working on the weapons with Emily," Girouard said. "Too bad she couldn't finish. There is only so much we can throw at her right now. She'll continue to improve. You just can't try and give her everything all at one time."
The true freshman from Chula Vista, California was pleased with her overall performance.
"I thought I pitched well," Turner said. "I just couldn't get that last out. It's nice though to have someone as reliable as Kristin to come in and get that last out. I just want to come away with the win.
Given three runs before she ever entered the circle, Turner credited her teammates at the plate.
"Our offense did an outstanding job," Turner said. "It sure makes my job easier."
Schmidt relieved Turner in the seventh inning to pick up her first save of the season.
Game Three: LSU 10 Alabama 7
In the slugfest of the weekend, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead and held on for a 10-7 victory to sweep the Crimson Tide.
With the sweep, the Tigers (31-7, 10-4) are now in sole possession of second place in the SEC West behind division-leading Auburn. Alabama (28-9, 9-6) dropped to third place in the SEC Western Division.
A pitcher's duel for the first three innings, the Tigers finally broke across for a pair of runs in the fourth inning. After Hill knocked a one-out single into center field and Turner drew a walk, pinch-hitter Leigh Ann Danos took a VanBrakle pitch into right field for an RBI single to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Camille Harris lined a VanBrakle pitch off of third base to push the Tiger lead to 2-0.
After allowing an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers took advantage of a wild pitch and a two-base error to answer the Bama rally with four runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-1 lead.
Seemingly out to a comfortable 6-1 lead, a pair of two-run home runs by VanBrakle and Angela Johnson cut the LSU lead back to one at 6-5.
The Tigers took control of the game for good in the sixth inning with another four runs. Hughes reached on a one-out single and after stealing second base scored on a RBI single by Castle.
Finishing the game 3-for-4, Castle continues to swing a hot bat.
"We all were just seeing it and hitting it," Castle said. "We were getting the ball down when we needed to. We just put ourselves in great positions all weekend long."
After VanBrakle retired Klein, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy decided to walk the hot-hitting Delahoussaye for the second consecutive time.
Motivated by the intentional walk, Hill took the very next pitch over the left-field wall for a three-run home run, her team-leading 10th of the season.
"I was mad after the first intentional walk," Hill said. "They did it again and I just told myself to be on time and I was."
Girouard was happy to see her team continue their aggressive style.
"It was a slugfest," Girouard said. "It was almost like a slow pitch game. I thought people saw two pitchers who at one point ran out of gas. It was going to be who was going to endure and who was going to keep the ball in the park.
"What I loved about our team is that we kept answering and that was what we've done for a majority of the season."
LSU got another gutsy effort from Schmidt (18-4) in the circle. The senior hurled picked up yet another complete-game victory, and struck out three.
"You've got to win on guts sometimes," Girouard said. "That's the bottom line when it came to this game."