BATON ROUGE - Rikki Alcaraz and Kailey McCasland drove home their first career RBIs coupled with a Rachele Fico one-hit shutout in the circle to spark the LSU softball team to an 8-0 five-inning rout of Louisiana Tech Sunday to wrap up opening weekend at Tiger Park.
LSU (2-2) has won back-to-back games and exploded for season-bests with eight runs on eight hits. The Tigers also platted runs in the four of the game's five innings, while Louisiana Tech (1-3) lost its second straight game.
Juliana Santos added a pair of RBIs in her first start in the clean-up spot since the 2010 season. Simone Heyward turned in a solid all-around effort. She produced two hits, scored two runs and stole two bases.
For LSU, Fico and Santos took home Tiger Classic All-Tournament Team honors.
"I liked how we competed, and I thought we got better every game of the weekend," head coach Beth Torina said. "We would have liked to see the offense better [for the entire weekend], but I like how they came out today. They had a good, strong showing and finished up on the right note."
The bottom of the lineup ignited a two-out rally to get LSU on the board during the second inning. A two-base throwing error by Louisiana Tech shortstop Melanie Goff placed Alcarez on second base. On the very next pitch, Allison Falcon ripped a RBI-single into centerfield to give the Tigers a 1-0 edge.
LSU struck for two additional runs in the third inning. Heyward ripped a leadoff single, while Santos and Ashleigh Kuhn filled the bases with consecutive walks. The Tigers went ahead 3-0 as McCasland laced a RBI-single through the left side followed by a passed ball which allowed Santos to score.
That would be more than enough run support for Rachele Fico, who retired nine straight batters after issuing a leadoff walk to open the game. Fico brought a no-hitter into the fourth inning and finished with three strikeouts against one walk to improve to 2-0 on the season.
"I feel pretty good out there," Fico said. "My defense is working really hard for me. Today, in the game, we didn't have too many strikeouts. They were putting the ball in play, and our defense took care of it. It's really easy to pitch when I know I have such a strong defense behind me."
LSU added two more runs in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third base, Santos delivered a timely two-out, two-run single to left field to make it 5-0.
Alcaraz platted two more runs and cranked a two-out double into the left centerfield gap during the fifth inning. After pinch runner Alex Boulet stole third base, the Tigers capped the 8-0 victory with a Heyward sacrifice fly.
"I think hitting is contagious," Torina said. "I think when you saw us hit this weekend, you saw multiple hits in those innings. I think once they get going and get confident, I think they'll be unstoppable."
LSU concludes its five-game homestand to open the season Wednesday versus Florida State, who is receiving votes in the both the NFCA and USA Softball Top 25 polls. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. from Tiger Park and live stats will be available on www.LSUsports.net/livestats.
Fans can receive live in-game updates by following LSU softball on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.
The Tiger Park Ticket Booth will open one hour prior to first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. All LSU students, faculty and staff are admitted free with a valid LSU ID card. Season tickets are on-sale for $75 and additional ticket information is available at www.LSUtix.net.
Amanda Chidester, Michigan
Sara Driesenga, Michigan
Rachele Fico, LSU
Janna Frandrup, Louisiana Tech
Katelynn Hill, Louisiana Tech
Kailyn Johnson, Penn State
Stephanie Kirkpatrick, Michigan
Juliana Santos, LSU
Nicole Sappingfield, Michigan
LSU vs. Louisiana Tech
February 12, 2012
HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On the weekend overall ...
"I liked how we competed, and I thought we got better every game of the weekend. I thought we played right with Michigan, one of the top-ranked teams in the country overall. We would have liked to see the offense better, but I like how they came out today. They had a good, strong showing and finished up on the right note."
On LSU offense ...
"I think hitting is contagious, and I think when you saw us hit this weekend, you saw multiple hits in those innings. I think once they get going and get confident, I think they'll be unstoppable."
On Rachele Fico pitching ...
"Rachele was dominant, and she controlled it even today after going a full eight yesterday. She was still strong, so I'm really proud of her. She competes every time she steps on the mound. I'm confident that yesterday, she would've thrown until we scored, even if it took ten, twelve or fifteen innings. She did a great job."
On Rikki Alcaraz and Kailey McCasland ...
"I liked seeing the freshmen out there today, because they did some really nice things. I thought they had a really good showing and didn't play like freshmen today. I think that when people are struggling, it's nice that we have other options."
On the upcoming game against Florida State ...
"We're excited about Florida State. It's another quality opponent, and I think it will be a great game for the fans here at Tiger Park. We'll have to show up with our A game. Hopefully we'll have the offense from today, and we'll compete with our best against them."
PITCHER RACHELE FICO
On opening weekend overall ...
"Our team has a lot of fight. We made adjustments all weekend. One thing that's really good about us is that we came back and scored runs late in the games. That just shows that we're continuing to fight, and we're making the adjustments that we need to. Today we came out fighting, and we scored a lot of runs. The bats were alive, and we looked awesome overall."
On Coach Torina ...
"Coach Beth (Torina) is a huge motivator. She believes in us so much, and it means so much to the team because we feed off of her. She has great energy, and she pushes us to be better every day. She's doing a fantastic job, and I couldn't ask for any more from her."
On personal performance ...
"I feel pretty good out there. My defense is working really hard for me. Today, in the game, we didn't have too many strikeouts. They were putting the ball in play, and our defense took care of it. It's really easy to pitch when I know I have such a strong defense behind me."
On the offense ...
"I believe in our hitters so much. They've worked really hard to get ready for the season and things are going to start falling into place. They looked great today, and they're going to continue to get better."