LAKE CHARLES, La. – A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Bianka Bell, the top three hitters in the lineup, combined for a 6-for-10 effort, five runs scored and drove home six RBIs as the No. 11 LSU softball team wrapped up its eight-game road swing with an impressive 7-1 victory over McNeese State Wednesday in-front of a program-record 1,035 fans at Cowgirl Diamond.
For Andrews, her three runs scored equaled a career-best. LSU has won all 23 games this season when Andrews crosses the plate.
Bell cranked her team-leading 11th home run on the season, a three-run shot, to fuel a five-run fourth inning. It marked Bell’s 12th straight outing with a RBI to extend her program record streak.
Meghan Patterson went the distance in the circle and was touched up for one run on three hits. She notched three strikeouts versus three walks and improved to 6-2 on the season. It was Patterson’s first start since her victory over Southeastern Louisiana on March 26.
“They did a good job, and A.J. Andrews was fantastic today,” head coach Beth Torina said. “What a day she had. A lot of them swung the bat really well especially early in the game. The defense was solid all around, and they communicated well. I thought the defense was setup with Meghan throwing so well on the mound. The better our pitching is, the better our defense is.”
LSU (36-9) has won eight of its last 10 games and has won 25 of 27 all-time meetings versus the Cowgirls, while McNeese State (32-11) was handed only its fourth setback since March 10.
The Tigers dented the scoreboard with a pair of runs during the first and second innings to grab a 2-0 advantage. Andrews dropped a bunt single in-front of the pitcher’s circle, moved to second base on Blades’ sacrifice bunt and raced home on Simmons’ RBI single to left centerfield with two outs.
With two outs, Andrews reached on a fielding error in the second inning. She stole second base and crossed the plate on Blades’ RBI single to right centerfield to make it 2-0.
The Cowgirls drew back to 2-1 on a solo home run courtesy of Ashley Modzelewski to open up the home half of the second inning.
LSU busted the game open and exploded for a five-run fourth inning. Rikki Alcaraz ignited the frame with a one-out double down the right field line. After Heyward dropped a bunt single and moved into scoring position by catching the McNeese State defense out of position, Andrews laced a two-run single to right field to push the lead to 4-1.
Blades tacked on an infield single down the third base line to set up Bell, who cleared the bases and belted a 2-0 offering over the left field scoreboard for a three-run dinger. It was Bell’s eight roundtripper over her last 18 games.
Patterson retired 11 of the final 13 batters she faced to secure the 7-1 victory. The Cowgirls put a pair of runners on-base during the fifth inning, but Alcaraz made a diving stop on a ball up the middle. She stretched her glove to the second base bag to get the force out and the frame’s third out.
“I definitely work extremely hard, and I love it when I get a chance to start,” Patterson said. “The defense behind me was just awesome. I know that I can get those ground ball outs with the drop ball. I just have a lot of confidence out there.”
LSU returns home and welcomes No. 12 Missouri to Tiger Park for a three-game set over the weekend. Game times are set for Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games of the series will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Sunday's game will be carried live by Cox Sports Television with Lyn Rollins and retired LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard set to call the action. Friday and Saturday’s contest will have live video available inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Every game of LSU softball will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program's social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.
The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open 90 prior to the first pitch. Friday’s series opener is the program’s “Pack the Park” game in addition to “Student Point Night. Tickets are available for $1, and the first 1,000 fans receiving koozies.
Saturday’s contest marks the team’s second annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” event where the Tigers will wear teal jerseys in support of the cause. The first 1,500 fans will receive a teal rally towel.
The series finale on Sunday is the program’s annual “Bark in the Park” game. Always a favorite, fans can enjoy the game with their furry friends. All dogs are required to be on a leash at all times and not allowed to go into the seating areas.
LSU Softball Postgame Quotes – April 17, 2013
No. 11 LSU at McNeese State
HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On tonight’s offensive performance…
“They did a good job, and A.J. Andrews was fantastic today. What a day she had. A lot of them swung the bat really well especially early in the game. Overall, they did a really good job.”
On A.J. Andrews and Jacee Blades …
“They are capable of doing some many things. They are so versatile. They can bunt, and they can swing away. They can create so many different things with all of their options and speed. When A.J. is on-base, it is just so tough to throw her out. They just make so many things happen. They create so much pressure on defense.”
On Bianka Bell’s home run …
“She is just really coming into her own. She is a special hitter. She is someone that is going to keep carrying us offensively. She showed what she is capable of doing tonight for sure.”
On the team’s defensive effort …
“The defense was solid all around, and they communicated well. Rikki did great today and played a great second base. I thought the play up the middle (to end the fifth inning) was a great play. I thought the defense was setup with Meghan Patterson throwing so well on the mound. The better our pitching is, the better our defense is. Meghan set a lot of that up.”
On Meghan Patterson’s performance tonight…
“I am 100 percent confident in her. We just haven’t had a situation where we can use her recently. I am 100 percent confident in her ability. She is throwing well, and she is always very prepared. Every time we need her, she is going to be ready.”
On facing Missouri this weekend…
“We are excited about it. Obviously, it is a big series. There’s no doubt we are ready for it. We are going to use tomorrow to get prepared. We know we are facing a very quality opponent. They are going to bring their ‘A’ game and do a lot of things really well. Hopefully, we can execute well and continue to play our game.”
P MEGHAN PATTERSON
On taking her hard work in practice to game situations…
“I definitely work extremely hard, and I love it when I get a chance to start. The defense behind me was just awesome. I know that I can get those ground ball outs with the drop ball. I just have a lot of confidence out there.”
On her performance …
“I was definitely careful towards the top part of their lineup. I actually knew a couple of the players from high school. I knew some of their weaknesses, and that was definitely the down pitch. I’m glad I got the drop ball figured out. We just did a really good job on defense.”
On playing efficiently and getting road wins…
“We definitely know that winning is important. On the road, we just try and make it fun. The team gels really well. It’s definitely enjoyable. When we are on the road, we have fun with it. I’m happy we’ve been able to pull through with those important wins.”