LEXINGTON, Ky. — Zachary High graduate Katie Browne homered in the third inning Thursday at the Southeastern Conference softball tournament, giving Georgia an early lead over LSU.
From there, the Bulldogs scored six more times in a 7-0 victory, eliminating the Tigers after only one game and potentially damaging LSU’s chance at a top-eight national seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers (40-14) were shut out for only the second time on the season and dropped their third straight game to the Bulldogs (38-18) over a six-day stretch. LSU lost twice last weekend at Georgia on the final weekend of the regular season.
The Bulldogs advanced to face top-seeded and No. 3 Florida in Friday’s semifinal round.
The Tigers had to wonder whether their three-game losing streak is simply an abberation or evidence that they’re hitting a slump at the wrong time.
“Georgia definitely deserves a lot of credit,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “Obviously, they have our number. I didn’t think my team played very well today. Of course, I’m not trying to take any credit away from Georgia, but I didn’t think we played our best game. I thought we got a better effort on the mound, but I thought we got a worse effort defensively and offensively. One positive about this is that we have a lot more time to prepare for next weekend and get some extra practice days. We’re at a point where we obviously need it.”
The Bulldogs got hits from eight of their nine starters, including multi-hit efforts from Browne and Kaylee Puailoa. Pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson
(8-4) was effective and efficient en route to a five-hit shutout. She had three strikeouts and one walk.
Georgia took a 1-0 lead on Browne’s solo homer to left field.
The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 3-0 during the fifth inning when Puailoa smacked a two-run single that deflected off the glove of LSU second baseman Allison Falcon and squirted into right field.
Georgia scored once more in the sixth, then added three runs in the seventh off LSU starter Rachele Fico (24-11), who gave up 10 hits and three walks. She struck out seven.
“The (Bulldogs) offense is so talented, (Nos.) 1 through 9. It has been hard every time,” Fico said. “They are always aggressive. Things have just gone their way these past three games. I would like another chance at them. I don’t know if we will get it, but I would like it. You can’t take anything away from them, and they are great hitters.”
With a RPI rating of No. 5 entering the week, LSU will receive an at-large berth in next week’s NCAA tournament. The 64-team field, including 16 host sites, will be announced at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.