The Tigers celebrate at home plate
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
No. 19 Softball Races Past ULM in Home Opener
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Published: February 17, 2010, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: February 17, 2010, 09:57 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - Kirsten Shortridge and Ashley Langoni combined for five hits to fuel the No. 19 LSU softball team to a 6-1 victory over Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday to open its second season at Tiger Park in-front of 880 fans.

Rachele Fico made her much-anticipated Tiger Park debut and fired five dominating innings to improve to 2-2 on the season. She sat down 10 of the first 11 hitters she faced as the two-time NFCA High School All-American surrendered only two hits, an unearned run and mowed down a career-best seven batters on an economical 85 pitches.

"I think she [Rachele] did awesome," Langoni said. "We played in a big environment at Texas against some big opponents last weekend. She did a good job, and I'm proud of her. She has stepped up her game, and she isn't playing like a freshman."

The Tigers (3-3) opened the scoring with the first of three two-run frames in the second inning. After a leadoff walk to Anissa Young, Langoni blasted a two run home run over the centerfield wall to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Jessica Mouse paired with Shortridge to set the table with back-to-back singles for LSU in the third inning. With runners on the corners, Rachel Mitchell platted both runs on a single to left centerfield to push the Tigers advantage to 4-0.

ULM (3-1) strung together a couple of singles and capitalized on a Morgan Russell throwing error to pull back to 4-1 in the fourth inning. With runners on first and second, Fico got out of the jam by striking out Katie Girardi.

The Tigers responded with two more runs in the home half of the frame. Shortridge knocked a RBI-single to score Courtney Hollier, who reached on a leadoff walk. Ashley Applegate ripped a RBI-double down the left field line to score Shortridge to make it 6-1.

Fico retired the Warhawks in order during the fifth inning to complete her Tiger Park debut and gave way to Brittany Mack, who retired all six batters she faced in relief.

"Tiger Park has an incredible atmosphere and it was an amazing feeling to be able to play in our stadium for the first time this year," Fico said. "The fans are fantastic. They give you a great feeling, and they are always cheering us on. It's a great home field advantage."

LSU plays host to its first of three consecutive tournaments as No. 4 Michigan, Oklahoma State and Virginia visit Tiger Park for the Wilson/DeMarini Tiger Classic. The Tigers look to keep their momentum going on Friday against Virginia at 5 p.m. followed by a 7:30 p.m. tilt against Oklahoma State.

Fans can follow every game of the Wilson/DeMarini Tiger Classic via live stats on LSUsports.net in addition to live in-games updates on www.twitter.com/lsu_softball.

"The pitching is very solid right now," head coach Yvette Girouard said. "We have to focus on everyone because we aren't scoring the runs I know we are capable of scoring. The bats still need to keep rolling. Virginia has a solid freshman pitcher, Oklahoma State always has a good crop, but the cream of the crop is Michigan."

LSU HEAD COACH YVETTE GIROUARD

On how Rachele Fico pitched ...
"She never let that run score. I saw a change up working and rise ball finally jumping. I thought she had a great outing."

On working on different pitches ...
"We've been working, working and working on it because she grew up just throwing hard by everybody. As you can see, she is very much around the plate."

On Fico's next challenge ...
"That's her next challenge. The ball wasn't hit out of the infield, yet there was a run that scored. We have to do a better job of stopping that."

On Kirsten Shortridge being the designated player ...
"She woke up this morning and had an indention in her shoulder. She was good enough to hit, but throwing might have been a little bit of a problem."

On the LSU pitching staff ...
"The pitching is very solid right now. We have a Michigan team coming in [this weekend] that can really hit the ball. I think we will really be able to gage ourselves on that because Michigan is a very fine hitting team."

On the upcoming Tiger Classic ...
"We have to focus on everyone because we aren't scoring the runs I know we are capable of scoring. The bats still need to keep rolling. Virginia has a freshman pitcher, Oklahoma State always has a good crop, but the cream of the crop is Michigan.

LSU PLAYER QUOTES

LF Ashley Langoni

On the move to outfield ...
"I feel a lot more comfortable out there-a lot more at ease. I'm more comfortable at the plate, and when you are more confident, you play better."

On Fico's first home game ...
"I think she did awesome. This weekend we played in a big environment at Texas against some big opponents. She did a good job, and I'm proud of her. She has stepped up her game, and she isn't playing like a freshman."

On the batting lineup ...
"I feel like we are stacked one through nine. We don't just count on the top-five batters. We count on one through nine."

P Rachele Fico

On her first home game in Tiger Park ...
"Tiger Park has an incredible atmosphere and it was an amazing feeling to be able to play in our stadium for the first time this year. They [the offense] came out and were hitting. It really set the pace for the game. I was really excited to be able to play in Tiger Park. The fans are fantastic. They give you a great feeling, and they are always cheering us on. It's a great home field advantage."

On what last weekend taught the team ...
"Last weekend really showed us some things we have to work on. Coach Girouard really capitalized on that. She was really working my change-up and rise ball in the bull pen yesterday at practice."

On if her change-up improved since the weekend ...
"The change-up looked like a completely different pitch then it did this past weekend. Coach [Girouard] really came down hard and made me work on it repetitively until I got it down."

 

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