LSU celebrates the series victory.
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Softball Wins Walk-off Style Over Kentucky, 4-3
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Published: March 16, 2013, 08:46 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - A.J. Andrews and Jacee Blades provided consecutive infield singles to vault the No. 13 LSU softball team to a dramatic 4-3 comeback victory in nine innings over No. 17 Kentucky  Saturday as a season's best 1,489 fans gathered at Tiger Park.

With the victory, LSU (22-5, 4-1 SEC) has won eight of its last 10 outings to remain in sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division standings. The Wildcats (19-6, 2-3 SEC) lost back-to-back games for the first time since opening weekend.

Trailing 3-2 after UK's Ansley Smith knocked her first career home run onto the left field berm with one out during the top of the ninth inning, the Tigers started their rally on a Tammy Wray single to left field.

Pinch runner Alex Boulet was inserted into the game. She moved to second base on a Rikki Alcaraz sacrifice bunt and scooted over to third on a wild pitch. Simone Heyward followed with a five-pitch walk and stole second base.

That set the stage for A.J. Andrews, who returned to the game two innings earlier from injury. She dropped down a squeeze bunt on a 1-0 offering to plate Boulet for the equalizer to make the score 3-3. Three pitches later, Jacee Blades chopped an infield single to the right side which allowed Heyward to cross the plate and give LSU its second walkoff win of the season.

"I just can't say enough about Alex Boulet," head coach Beth Torina said. "She is someone who has such a special gift to change a ball game every time she is on-base. I think a lot of the credit goes to her for making things happen. Then, for our slappers (A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Simone Heyward) who have been the unsung heroes to be the ones in the limelight today is fitting because they have done so much for this team all season long. I think those guys were really the heroes of the day."

"Before I batted, Coach (Beth Torina) told me we have two of the fastest people on the team on," Blades said. "She said if you're safe then they (A.J. Andrews and Simone Heyward) are going to be safe. I knew that I just needed to use the ground and not overpower anything. We had only one out, and I tried to put it on the right side of the field because I knew Simone would score."

"I love to play so unless I have something hanging off my body I am going to do everything I can to possibly play and play for my team," Andrews said. "I think we just came together in the clutch. I think we are a very good team when we work together. We definitely work together when we are under pressure. Pressure isn't something that folds us. I think it makes us excited to hit the ball."

LSU manufactured a run to take 1-0 edge in the third inning. Alcaraz, who registered a 2-for-2 effort, knocked an infield single to deep shortstop to start the frame. She stole second base and scooted over to third base on a Heyward ground out to the right side. Three batters later, Alcaraz raced home for the game's first run on Allison Falcon's sacrifice fly and team-leading 19th RBI of the season.

The Tigers tacked on another run during the fourth inning. Kellsi Kloss belted a leadoff double off the left field wall. She would score on an Alcaraz triple to left field to extend the LSU advantage to 2-0. 

LSU starter Meghan Patterson found her rhythm and retired 11 straight Wildcats after she stranded a pair of base runners over the first two innings.

However, Kentucky would use a two-out rally of their own in the sixth inning. Maisie Steed collected a four-pitch free pass before Christian Stokes cranked a two-run homer to left centerfield with two outs to knot the score at 2-2.

The Wildcats continued to put the pressure on LSU as Lauren Cumbess followed with a double which chased Patterson from the game. The Tigers turned to Rachele Fico out of the bullpen, who got a fly ball out to keep the ledger at 2-2.

"Meghan did a really good job today," Torina said. "She missed one pitch, and it cost her significantly. Hopefully, she will grow from this. The more she gets out there, the more she will understand the mistakes she can and can't make. Hopefully in the near future, she will be able to finish them out and will be carrying us through Saturday."

Both teams stranded multiple runners on-base during the seventh inning before the Smith dinger with one out in the ninth inning gave UK a 3-2 lead. 
 
Patterson earned a no-decision and tallied five strikeouts versus one walk over her 5.2 innings of work. She allowed two runs on three hits. In relief, Fico notched her fourth SEC victory and improved to 14-3 on the season after she tossed 3.1 frames and added two strikeouts.

Cumbess went the distance for the Wildcats and gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits. She picked up five strikeouts against four walks and her record evened up at 3-3 for the season.

"Kentucky is going to come at us tomorrow with their best," Torina said. "I am sure they are going to have some changes and do some things differently. We just have to continue to pound away at them with our offensive plan. We just have to keep fighting through it because it is not going to be an easy ball game tomorrow."

The final game of the three-game set is slated for Sunday at 12 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge. Live video and live audio can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

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

The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open 90 prior to the first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. As part of "Geaux Green Day" at the ballpark, the first 750 fans to Sunday's contest will take home color changing stadium cups for Saint Patrick's Day.

 

LSU Softball Postgame Quotes - March 16, 2013
No. 13 LSU vs. No. 17 Kentucky

HEAD COACH BETH TORNIA

On LSU's mindset heading into the ninth inning down a run ...
"I just can't say enough about Alex Boulet. She is someone who has such a special gift to change a ball game every time she is on-base. I think a lot of the credit goes to her for making things happen. Then, for our slappers (A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Simone Heyward) who have been the unsung heroes to be the ones in the limelight today is fitting because they have done so much for this team all season long. They finally get to be the ones to win the ball game and out right win it. Tammy Wray led us off with a big hit, and that was huge. It gave Boulet the opportunity to be out there. I think those guys were really the heroes of the day."

On winning the ball game with the little plays...
"They were very selfless, they did their jobs and they got things done. Rikki (Alcaraz) laid the bunt down and was fantastic for us all day. She also got a couple hits and did everything we asked of her."

On Meghan Patterson's performance ...
"She did a really good job today. She missed one pitch, and it cost her significantly. Hopefully she will grow from this. The more she gets out there, the more she will understand the mistakes she can and can't make. I think she is continuing to grow and get deeper into this. Hopefully in the near future, she will be able to finish them out and will be carrying us through Saturday."

On Rachele Fico's effort in relief ...
"Anytime Fico is on the mound, we feel like we have a chance. I think the team felt really confident with her. I think the team has a lot of heart, a lot of guts and I felt like they were going to fight through whatever. The real kicker was going down in the ninth inning and to comeback from it. They never lost their confidence or belief in themselves. They fought and stayed with it the whole way."

On A.J Andrews coming back into the game after an injury during the third inning...
"I asked her to do a lot for this team today. She's not feeling a 100 percent or not even close, but she was able another one that was able to gut it out. She has had a lot of wonderful performances, and that is definitely one of them. She may or may not be able to go for tomorrow, but she gutted it out today when we really needed her to."

On tomorrow's series finale ...
"Kentucky is going to come at us tomorrow with their best. I am sure they are going to have some changes and do some things differently. We just have to continue to pound away at them with our offensive plan. We just have to keep fighting through it because it is not going to be an easy ball game tomorrow. They are going to come at us with their best."

CF A.J. ANDREWS

On coming back into the game after being injured ...
"I love to play so unless I have something hanging off my body I am going to do everything I can to possibly play and play for my team. I think we just came together in the clutch. I think we are a very good team when we work together. We definitely work together when we are under pressure. Pressure isn't something that folds us. I think it makes us excited to hit the ball."

On how her, Jacee and Simone work together in the lineup ...
"I think we definitely feed off each other. It pumps us up when someone gets on-base. We aren't the power people so when we are safe on a bunt or slap it is very exciting. It pumps up the next person up to bat to do the same thing and get on-base."

On the keys to tomorrow's game ...
"Tomorrow we just have to stay focused and continue to do what we are doing. I think we are just working well as a team right now. We are coming through under pressure situations. We just need to keep playing LSU softball, and we won't have a problem."

LF JACEE BLADES

On finding the hole in the ninth inning and scoring the runner on third...
"Before I batted, Coach (Beth Torina) told me we have two of the fastest people on the team on. She said if you're safe then they (A.J. Andrews and Simone Heyward) are going to be safe. I knew that I just needed to use the ground and not overpower anything. We had only one out, and I tried to put it on the right side of the field because I knew Simone would score."

 

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