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Juliana Santos (2) and the Tigers celebrate the game-winning run
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Softball Defeats Texas St. Walk-off Style, 1-0
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Published: May 18, 2012, 07:41 PM (CT)
Updated: May 18, 2012, 09:12 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Juliana Santos delivered a clutch RBI single through the middle with one out during the seventh inning to propel the LSU softball team to a dramatic 1-0 walk-off victory over Texas State Friday to open the NCAA College Station Regional in-front of 1,265 fans at the Aggie Softball Complex on the Texas A&M campus.

LSU (35-22) ended a four-game May losing streak and secured its 35th victory of the season. The Tigers will face either No. 8 national seed Texas A&M or Bethune-Cookman in Saturday's winner bracket game at 1 p.m. carried live by ESPN3.com with Cara Capuano and Cheri Kempf serving as the broadcast team.

"When we have hit this season, we have hit contagiously," head coach Beth Torina said. "I think our kids will start feeling more confident knowing that they are capable of grouping those hits together. Hopefully, they will give us some momentum going into tomorrow's game."

Texas State's (38-16) Chandler Hall carried a no-hitter and retired 17 consecutive batters after issuing a leadoff walk to Simone Heyward during the first inning.

It was Heyward, making her start since April 17, who chopped an infield single down the third base line to end Hall's run and start a three-hit barrage for the Tigers. Two batters later, Ashley Langoni ripped a single of her own off of Hall's foot.

That set the stage for Santos, who knocked a 1-1 offering into centerfield off the second base bag to score Heyward standing up for the game-winner.

"The fact that Simone was able to get on-base and let everyone us in the dugout know that are capable of doing it," Torina said. "Our players know with Simone's speed that they only have to do a little bit to get her to score from second base. Both seniors at the end, Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos, came up big for us. When we're at our best, that combination was been huge."

"Before the hit, Coach Torina told me to not try to do too much," Santos said. "Be a productive out so I went to the plate with the mentality to move Simone [Heyward] to third base. I was expecting the change-up because she got me on the same pitch in my previous at-bat. I wanted to be ready for it, and I got it through. As soon the pitcher wasn't able to field it, I knew Simone was going to score."

Rachele Fico fired a two-hitter to claim her 21st career shutout. In the process, the junior right-hander eclipsed Dani Hofer for sole possession of fourth place on LSU's all-time list. She recorded six strikeouts against two walks on an economical 93 pitches.  

Hall was dealt the tough-luck loss and fell to 22-7 on the season for the Bobcats.

"A ton of credit goes to Chandler Hall," Torina said. "She is talented, a great player and everything we thought she would be. We've had offensive struggles at times on our part. Hopefully, we've broken out of it, and we will carry that momentum into tomorrow's game."  

Texas State's best opportunity to score came in the seventh inning. Anna Hernandez provided an opening single and advanced into scoring position on a Hall sacrifice bunt.

Courtney Harris connected for a line drive, but Langoni ran the ball down from her left field post to keep the Bobcats off the scoreboard.   

"Today wasn't my best day," Fico said. "My pitches weren't as sharp as I would like them to be, so we worked on spotting the ball better, and trying to get ahead in the count. I would have liked to have had a better performance, but my defense played phenomenally behind me. Ashley Applegate and Ashley Langoni made some great plays for me in the outfield. It is really easy to pitch on the mound when you know that your team is going to back you up."

Every LSU postseason game will have live audio and live stats available inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The games also will be carried live on Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway set to call the action.

Fans can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.

Softball Postgame Quotes - May 18, 2012
LSU vs. Texas State - NCAA College Station Regional

Head Coach Beth Torina
"Hopefully, the monkey is off our back. That will be our scoring breakthrough, and we will continue to score from there. We have tended to do that all year. When we do hit, it's contagious so the fact that we got three hits in the last inning didn't surprise me at all. That's our team, we are going to fight and claw until the very end. We are going to scratch off one or two runs, and our pitching is good enough to keep us in any ballgame." 

On the performance of Chandler Hall...
"A ton of credit goes to [Texas State pitcher] Chandler Hall. She is talented, a great player and everything we thought she would be. We have had offensive struggles at times on our part. Hopefully, we've broken out of it, and we will carry that momentum into tomorrow's game.  Hopefully, we won't have to go six or seven innings before we start scoring runs. But a lot of credit goes to Hall, she is a fantastic player, and a great pitcher."

On what changed in the seventh Inning...
"Simone Heyward leading us off with a hit really sparked the offense in the seventh inning.  Our team really feeds off of that. When they see one person can do it then suddenly they feel like they can do it as well. I think Simone was able to set the tone there for our offense."

Junior Pitcher Rachele Fico

On her performance today...
"Today wasn't my best day. My pitches weren't as sharp as I would like them to be, so we worked on spotting the ball better, and trying to get ahead in the count. I would have liked to have had a better performance, but my defense played phenomenally behind me. Ashley Applegate and Ashley Langoni made some great plays for me in the outfield. It is really easy to pitch on the mound when you know that your team is going to back you up."

Senior Infielder Juliana Santos

On the game winning hit...
"Before the hit, Coach Torina told me to not try to do too much. Be a productive out so I went to the plate with the mentality to move Simone [Heyward] to third base. I knew that if I got anything through the infield that she was going to score, because she is so fast. I was expecting the change-up because she got me on the same pitch in my previous at-bat. I wanted to be ready for it, and I got it through. As soon the pitcher wasn't able to field it, I knew Simone was going to score."

 

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