Shemiah Sanchez's brother held up her dog Chipper in a "Lion King" style fashion out in center field in the bottom of the sixth inning of LSU's series finale against Kentucky — a signal of what was to come for the Tigers.
Sanchez was 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs and a double in LSU's 5-2 win over Kentucky to clinch the series win.
"She's been the one that's been carrying us," said LSU coach Beth Torina. "She's been our hottest hitter. I'm glad when she step in the box. You find yourself hoping she was going to come up, cause she's been the one that's been leading us offensively."
LSU and Kentucky were in a stalemate for previous three innings after the Wildcats tied the game 2-2 in the top of the fourth. Neither team had gotten a hit since then, but things changed in the sixth.
In the top half, Kentucky shortstop Katie Reed hit a one-out double, but was caught in a run down during the next at bat. LSU pitcher Shelbi Sunseri notched her sixth strikeout to end the inning.
The Tigers broke it open in the bottom of the sixth.
Sunseri lead off with a double and Shemiah Sanchez hit her second home run of the game — right to her brother and dogs behind the center field wall — to break the stalemate and give LSU a 4-2 lead.
"I was think just get a hit," Sanchez said. "We have a runner at two and just get something through. [Pinch runner Akiyah Thymes] is pretty fast and I just knew something through will score a run."
can confirm. Shemiah Sanchez’s brother held up her dog in center field and she hit the home run right to them. pic.twitter.com/0Af8Gp6tPv— Kennedi Landry (@landryyy14) April 14, 2019
Senior outfielder Elyse Thornhill added to the lead with a solo home run to right field right after.
"That was keeping the momentum on our side," Sanchez said. "Just putting pressure. It's tough when you go ahead on a team in the bottom of the sixth and they only have three outs left."
"It's pretty deflating for the other team when you just keep pouring it on like that," Torina said.
LSU had taken the lead immediately to start the game when senior infielder Amanda Sanchez walked in the two spot and Shemiah Sanchez belted her first two-run home run of the game. LSU led 2-0 after one inning.
Kentucky began cutting LSU's lead in the top of the second inning with an RBI single from pinch hitter Autumn Humes. The Wildcats' rally was cut short with an inning-ending double play by LSU infielder Amanda Sanchez
A solo home run from Kentucky third baseman Abbey Cheek would tie the game 2-2. Sunseri said she probably should have placed the pitch a little higher in the zone, but the home run didn't phase the Tigers on either side of the ball.
Sunseri gave up six hits and two runs as she earned the win in the circle. Torina credited her ability to stay calm and continue getting better throughout the game, even after Kentucky tied it.
"I knew my defense was behind me 100 percent and I just had to make them hit the ball, make them put it in play," Sunseri said. "My defense was going to have my back."
The Tigers have shown all season, and even this weekend, that they are able to win games in multiple ways and fight through adversity. This was the third straight series where they dropped the first game but won the next two to clinch the series.
"Our motto this year is 'Fight All the Way' and I really think that we take that to heart 100 percent," Sunseri said. "Just fighting for every pitch, every at bat, every inch of the game — like on Friday, we did lose by inches, by one run and we could've done a couple things better. Just fighting and giving it all we have."
"Their guts and their fight are going to take them further in this season than anything they can do talent wise," Torina said.