BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The first top 10 SEC series of the season will be played at Tiger Park when No. 10/12 LSU challenges No. 4/5 Tennessee March 17-19.
The series opens with a 7 p.m. game on Friday, March 17, game two will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 18, and the series finale will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 19. All three games will be streamed on SEC Network+ with Lyn Rollins and LSU Hall of Fame Softball Coach Yvette Girouard on the call. Fans can also tune in with Patrick Wright – the Voice of LSU softball on 107.3 FM in the Baton Rouge area.
The Tigers are 23-2 this season and are currently ranked No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll and No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. LSU has a No. 3 RPI ranking and No. 4 strength of schedule ranking as of the March 15 publication of the RPI.
As a unit, LSU ranks No. 2 in the SEC with 233 hits and No. 3 in the league with a .344 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage. The Tigers have the fourth-lowest ERA at 1.74 in the SEC and have 152 strikeouts and register a .978 fielding percentage.
Graduate pitcher Ali Kilponen is 8-0 in the circle and has a 1.44 ERA behind 60 strikeouts which ranks No. 10 in the SEC. Kilponen tossed seven complete games with three shutouts, three saves, and has allowed 37 hits, 16 walks, and 12 runs over 58.1 innings. The Colorado native is coming off a 2-0 weekend at South Carolina where she struck out 16 batters with a 1.00 ERA. Kilponen currently ranks No. 10 all-time in the program’s history with 52 career wins and is 12 strikeouts shy of breaking into the top 10 in career strikeouts as an LSU pitcher (currently has 422 career strikeouts).
Freshman pitchers Sydney Berzon (7-1) and Alea Johnson (5-0) are other top-producing arms this season. Berzon has thrown 48.1 innings and has a 1.16 ERA, 45 strikeouts, three saves, and two shutouts. Johnson has held opposing batters to a .167 batting average in 25.0 innings pitched and has 23 strikeouts.
Junior infielder Danieca Coffey leads LSU with a .464 batting average, a league-best 39 hits, and a .545 on-base percentage (No. 9 in SEC). Junior outfielder Ciara Briggs follows with a .398 batting average with 33 hits and ranks No. 6 in the SEC with 26 runs scored.
Junior shortstop Taylor Pleasants has tallied 36 RBIs this season ranking No. 2 in the SEC and is batting .372 behind 29 hits, eight home runs and 21 runs scored. Pleasants ranks No. 4 in the LSU record book with 37 career home runs and No. 9 all-time with 154 career RBIs.
Graduate infielder Georgia Clark has a .364 batting average with 24 hits and an SEC-best 22 walks. Clark has five home runs this season and has 19 RBIs. The Texas native ranks No. 6 all-time 35 career homers and No. 7 all-time with 111 career walks.
LSU trails Tennessee 29-35-1 all-time. The last time the two teams met for a three-game series was in 2021 when the Tigers won the series in Knoxville, Tenn., 2-1. The Lady Vols return to Baton Rouge for the first time since 2017.
Tennessee is the winner of 16 consecutive games, which includes a sweep over Ole Miss (March 10-12) to open SEC play. The Volunteers lead the SEC with a 0.62 ERA and a .121 opposing batting average. UT has 183 strikeouts (No. 5 in SEC) and has allowed the least number of runs (13), and extra-base hits (11) in the SEC. Offensively, Tennessee ranks No. 2 in the conference in batting average (.347), RBIs (172), slugging percentage (.596), and on-base percentage (.476).
Senior outfielder Kiki Milloy is the team’s star athlete and leads the SEC in batting average (.525), home runs (13), runs scored (36), slugging percentage (1.262), on-base percentage (.662) and total bases (77). Milloy has 32 hits and 32 RBIs which ranks No. 7 and No. 4 in the SEC, respectively. Senior Mackenzie Donihoo follows her lead with a .424 batting average and has 28 hits, 32 runs, and 20 RBIs. Donihoo is the team leader with 14 doubles this season.
Tennessee has three pitchers with ERAs below 1.00 with at least 30 innings pitched. Graduate pitcher Ashley Rogers (7-0) has a 0.48 ERA with 74 strikeouts and three shutouts in 43.1 innings, freshman pitcher Karlyn Pickens (4-1) has a 0.58 ERA with 40 strikeouts, four shutouts and one save in 36.0 innings pitched, and senior pitcher Payton Gottshall (6-0) has a 0.67 ERA with 52 strikeouts and one shutout in 31.1 innings thrown. The trio has allowed 40 hits, 10 runs, and 14 walks combined.
LSU will host a midweek game against McNeese State at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21 at Tiger Park.
(Release via LSU Athletics)