Lady Lions de-clawed by LSU in 11-1 rout


Kennith Woods

Junior designated player Audrey Greely stepped up to bat before smacking a double down the right field line against LSU at North Oak Park Wednesday night. (March 15, 2023)

Southeastern Softball endured a grueling 11-1 loss to the no. 12 Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers on Monday night at North Oak Park. The loss is their fourth in their last five games, and their third to a top team in the nation, including Mississippi State and no. 1 defending national champions Oklahoma. 

The Lady Lions came into the contest with a 20-5 record, averaging 5.8 runs per game. A win in their previous matchup against East Tennessee State University concluded a three-game losing streak. 

Junior starting pitcher Cera Blanchard took the mound for Southeastern to begin the game. Blanchard had a rocky start to the evening, as LSU appeared to have the read on her early after the top of LSU’s lineup made it to base with no outs. 

Luckily, Blanchard managed to weather their momentum by inducing a pop-up, a caught foul ball, and a strikeout to escape the jam without giving up a run. 

Southeastern began the bottom of the first with a promising start. Junior outfielder Cam Goodman reached base on a four-pitch walk and freshman third baseman Maria Detillier legged out a bunt single to put runners at first and second with no outs. 

The next three batters failed to reach base, though, leaving Goodman and Detillier stranded. The first inning concluded as it began, 0-0. 

In the top of the second, Blanchard allowed a single from junior second baseman Karli Petty but induced another pop-up for the first out.  A single from sophomore right fielder McKenzie Redoutey and a caught ball put two on and two out. Unfortunately, with two on and two out, the second would take a turn for the catastrophic. 

In an agonizing series of events, Blanchard and the infield allowed four runs to easily score thanks to three walks and an error from junior first baseman Lexi Johnson. First, Blanchard gave up successive RBI bases-loaded walks to junior shortstop Taylor Pleasants and fifth-year senior designated player Georgia Clark to put LSU on the scoreboard first, 2-0. 

Next, Johnson’s error allowed junior center fielder Ciara Briggs to round home to extend the Tigers’ lead. LSU’s second-inning barrage would conclude with a third RBI bases-loaded walk from junior left fielder Ali Newland.  

Blanchard’s night also concluded immediately thereafter. She was replaced on the mound by senior pitcher KK Ladner, who immediately struck out Petty to bring a frustrating second inning to an end. 

In 1.2 innings of work, Blanchard threw one strikeout and gave up three hits, two earned runs, and six walks. 

The club, after being pounced on for four runs, flashed a glimmer of hope to begin the bottom of the inning. Sophomore SS Maddie Watson demolished a first-pitch home run to left field to put Southeastern on the board in emphatic fashion. 

A potential Southeastern rally continued following consecutive walks from junior DP Audrey Greely and junior right fielder Maddie Leal. Following a strikeout and ground out, Detillier’s walk loaded the bases for the Lady Lions with the tying run coming up to the plate. 

However, second baseman Madison Rayner was thrown out at first, neutralizing the Lady Lions’ chance at a comeback. 

Ladner was tasked with preserving the three-run deficit and giving the offense another chance at evening the score. She performed spectacularly, as she hurled two strikeouts and generated a groundout to allow zero runs and zero hits maintaining the three-run deficit heading into the bottom of the third. 

Ladner continued her dominance on the mound in the top of the fourth by striking out Pleasants and producing a fly-out from Clark. She faced trouble after she gave up a double to left field to junior 1B Raeleen Gutierrez, who would then stride to third after a passed ball. After being worked to a full count, Newland made it to base off a second error from Johnson, allowing Gutierrez to run home and bring the score to 5-1. 

Johnson’s night at first base ended after the error. She was replaced with Krolczyk, who herself was replaced by freshman catcher McKayla Ferguson.

The Lady Lions would remain scoreless in the third and fourth innings, squandering an opportunity to keep close despite Ladner’s fantastic pitching. 

In the top of the fifth, a single and steal from junior 3B Danieca Coffey and a walk from Briggs put the Lady Lions in trouble of falling behind further in this game. 

Those fears were realized when a Pleasants single, compounded by an error from junior left fielder Ka’Lyn Watson, brought Briggs and Coffey home. Clark grounded out to third to end the run, 7-1. 

In the bottom of the fifth, sophomore pinch hitter Blaire Bizette drew a four-pitch walk. Ferguson walked to put two on with nobody out, reigniting the potential for a Lady Lions’ rally. Those hopes were quelled after Krolczyk lined out to third and Bizette was thrown out at third and then permanently extinguished when M. Watson struck out swinging to end the inning. 

Coach Rick Fremin made a myriad of adjustments in hopes of keeping the game within striking distance for the final two innings. Rayner stepped in at second in place of Bizette, freshman left fielder Colleen Kulivan subbed in at left for K. Watson and junior pitcher Ellie DuBois replaced Ladner on the mound. 

“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world being able to pitch for this team, so every time I step out there I just want to give us a chance. I just want to keep bettering myself for this team,” Ladner said about her performance tonight. 

In 3.1 innings, Ladner tossed four strikeouts and allowed three hits and one earned run. 

DuBois struck out Gutierrez to begin the top of the sixth, but then allowed a pair of singles from Newland and Petty to put two on with nobody out. Redoutey hit a double to left field to drive Newland and Petty home and balloon LSU’s lead to 9-1. Coffey’s bunt to third base scored two more runs thanks to a fourth Southeastern error from M. Watson. 

A second Tigers four-run inning propelled their lead to 11-1. Fermin took out DuBois before the inning concluded in favor of junior pitcher MC Comeaux. 

The bottom of the sixth was simply a formality for both teams. A Greely double and Leal walk briefly spared the Lady Lions from the inevitable, but a double play and a Goodman strikeout sealed a humiliating loss against LSU, 11-1.  

Fremin expressed disappointment in his team’s performance after the outing, especially in their defense, and blamed himself for their struggles. 

“As head coach, I take full responsibility,” he said. 

Despite the tough loss, Watson maintained a positive outlook on her team, stating that they’ve already “flushed out” this performance and are looking ahead to the next game. 

“After every game, win or loss, we always come together and find our strengths and weaknesses. I think we did some good things tonight, obviously some things we need to clean up but we’re going to be locked in for conference. We’re going to flush it; there’s nobody I want to be out here with more than the team tonight,” she said.

Ladner repeated this sentiment and said that her team can use tonight as motivation for the rest of the season. 

“If you look at our entire season, every game we’ve lost we’ve actually beat ourselves, so I’m using that as encouragement and fuel to keep sparking that fire in this team to know that if we want it, we have to go get it,” she said. 

The Lady Lions hit the road to begin conference play with a doubleheader against Lamar University at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, March 17. The third and final game of the series will be at noon on Saturday, March 18. 

Fans can watch the team live this weekend on ESPN. Visit Lion Sports for more information on Lady Lions Softball.