LSU's Ashley Czechner
Photo by:Martin McCallister
No. 11 Softball Crushes No. 12 Missouri, 8-0
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Published: April 20, 2013, 09:02 PM (CT)
Updated: April 22, 2013, 11:56 AM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The No. 11 LSU softball team bounced back in a big way and secured an 8-0 five-inning victory over No. 12 Missouri to even the three-game series Saturday in-front of a raucous 2,291 fans during the program’s second-annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” teal game at Tiger Park.

LSU (37-10, 12-5 SEC) wore teal jerseys in support of Ovarian Cancer awareness. Before the game, the program recognized survivors of the disease on the field during a special ceremony. The 2,291 fans was the third-largest crowd in program history. 

“It was an unbelievable night for this program,” head coach Beth Torina said. “When the gates opened an hour and half before the game, fans were pouring in to make sure they had their seats on the berm. They had team with the person’s name on their shirts with the survivors’ names they were there for. It was a super cool event. It is something that is close to my heart with my mom being an Ovarian Cancer survivor. Add the “Geaux Teal” walk to it earlier this morning, it was an unbelievable day. We raised almost 17,000 dollars for cancer awareness and education in the Baton Rouge community. It was a fantastic day for the program.”

Ashley Czechner was effective and efficient en route to a two-hit shutout. The junior right-hander fired in 11-of-17 first pitch strikes and tallied three strikeouts against one walk to improve to 9-0 for the season. It marked the first time that Missouri (25-7, 10-6 SEC) was shutout on the season, a streak of 54 games that dated back to April 13, 2012.

LSU’s offense posted an eight-hit attack and was opportunistic by taking advantage of five Missouri errors. LSU was fueled by Kellsi Kloss’ 2-for-2 effort with two RBIs, while Rikki Alcaraz turned in a 2-for-3 performance and added a RBI.

The victory enabled LSU to maintain sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division race after Alabama secured an 11-3 victory earlier in the day.

“Ashley was really good and really solid with all of her pitches,” Torina said. “She looked like she had it in control during the entire game. She threw a lot of strikes and worked ahead. I really enjoyed watching her pitch this game.”

LSU raced out to a 4-0 edge during the first inning. Jacee Blades reached base on an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop. She moved to second base on a fielding error by the Missouri second baseman. Allison Falcon smacked a single, and Blades raced home with the game’s first run after a throwing error by the Missouri centerfielder.

Sandra Simmons was hit-by-a-pitch to fill the bases. On the first pitch of the sequence, Kloss ripped a two-run single through the right side to extend LSU’s lead to 3-0. Kloss stole second base, and Simmons crossed the plate with LSU’s fourth run courtesy of Missouri’s third error of the frame, a throwing error by the catcher.

“I have been struggling a little bit at the plate for the past couple of weeks,” Kloss said. “I told myself to forget everything that happened before and just have fun. I saw the ball really well today. I told myself to look for one pitch, don’t get out of your element and just stay within yourself.

LSU added three more runs in the third inning. Bianka Bell laced a leadoff single to right centerfield, stole second base and scored after a dropped fly ball by the Missouri centerfielder to make it 5-0.

Kloss belted another single to place runners on the corners, and Simmons scampered home with LSU’s sixth run after a Missouri starting pitcher Nicole Hudson uncorked a wild pitch. An Alcaraz single through the middle put runners back on the corners.  LSU executed a double steal with Alcaraz and Kloss to push the margin to 7-0.

LSU closed the game out with another run during the fifth inning. Simmons picked up a leadoff single to centerfield and advanced to third base after a wild pitch and passed ball, respectively. Three batters later, Alcaraz scored the final run on a bunt down the third base line for the winning margin of 8-0.

Czechner retired eight of her final nine batters to secure her third shutout of the season. Missouri’s best opportunity to score came in the third inning after putting the first two runners on-base. Czechner notched back-to-back strikeouts followed by a fly ball to escape the threat.

“I just really wanted to go right at them,” Czechner said. “I didn’t want to get behind in the count. I wanted to throw a first-pitch strike as often as I could. I know when I get behind, I get in a lot of trouble. That was my plan pretty much. I wanted to stay ahead of them and keep them off balanced as much as I could.”

“I had so much fun catching Ashley today,” Kloss said. “It was awesome to see her establish strikes right away. I felt like they didn’t really know what to do. It was like they were so shocked at the first-pitch strike. They were flustered after that. It was fun to see Ashley thrive off of that. I just had so much fun watching her do so well. She held them to two hits and no runs.”

The rubber game of the three-game series is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m., and the game will be carried live by Cox Sports Television with Lyn Rollins and retired LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard set to call the action. The game also 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. Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway will have the radio call.

Fans 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.

Sunday’s series finale 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. There will be a “Canine Cabana” located by section 206 on the third base side concourse.

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.

LSU Softball Postgame Quotes – April 20, 2013
No. 11 LSU vs. No. 12 Missouri

HEAD COACH BETH TORINA

On today’s “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” event …
“Honestly, it didn’t matter what happened in this game. We won this day because of this event, this crowd and everything that happened to this program today. The result of the game was definitely the icing on the cake. Of course, the game was huge in the SEC race and everything that this team is trying to accomplish. I’m not down playing the win at all. This was an awesome day for this program.”

On Ashley Czechner’s pitching performance …
“She was really good and really solid with all of her pitches. She looked like she had it in control during the entire game. She threw a lot of strikes and worked ahead. I really enjoyed watching her pitch this game.”

On grabbing the momentum early with four first-inning runs …
“I thought the balls were well hit, and we were forcing them to make some tough plays. I thought our offense did a good job of putting things in play and putting them in play hard.”

On Kellsi Kloss’ two-hit effort …
“She is doing a good job and is swinging the bat very well. She looks good and is really helping us. We put her in that six spot of the lineup, and she is filling the void for us.”

On the offensive game plan…
“We did a good job of finishing it. We know that we are going to see a completely different Missouri team with Chelsea Thomas back on the mound. We have our work cut out for us, and it will be a good gut check for us tomorrow. I think the team that comes out with the most heart and fight will win the series.”

On the crowd support …
“It was an unbelievable night for this program. When the gates opened an hour and half before the game, fans were pouring in to make sure they had their seats on the berm. They had team with the person’s name on their shirts with the survivors’ names they were there for. It was a super cool event. It is something that is close to my heart with my mom being a Ovarian Cancer survivor. Add the “Geaux Teal” walk to it earlier this morning, it was an unbelievable day. We raised almost 17,000 dollars for cancer awareness and education in the Baton Rouge community. It was a fantastic day for the program.”

P ASHLEY CZECHNER

On bouncing back after yesterday’s loss…
“As a team, we really fed off each other. We fed off the fans especially. Everyone gave so much support for the teal game and for the walk this morning. It was really awesome to see that. I think we showed tonight that we were fired up, and we wanted to win for them.”

On her pitching performance …
“I just really wanted to go right at them. I didn’t want to get behind in the count. I wanted to throw a first-pitch strike as often as I could. I know when I get behind, I get in a lot of trouble. That was my plan pretty much. I wanted to stay ahead of them and keep them off balanced as much as I could.”

On the offensive support …
“The offense did tremendous tonight. Any pitcher should feel comfortable with eight runs on the board. That four-run lead after the first inning really helped me to establish my pitches and helped me really work ahead the counts. If I made a mistake, it wasn’t going to be a big deal because we had such a big lead.”

On tomorrow’s rubber game …
“I think losing the first game puts the series in perspective. There is a little bit of pressure for us to win the next two. I think we play phenomenally under pressure. We are excited for tomorrow’s game.”

C KELLSI KLOSS

On bouncing back from yesterday’s loss…
“After the game yesterday, Coach Torina and the team agreed that we weren’t as aggressive and confident with ourselves that we know we can be. Today’s plan was to come out aggressive and have fun from the very first pitch. Our energy was a lot better today. As soon as we scored those first four runs in the first inning, we knew right away that we needed to keep the energy up if we wanted to win.”

On the “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” event …
“Today was so much fun playing in front of everyone. At the Ovarian Cancer walk this morning, we felt the love from everyone. We all agreed whether win or lose, today was going to be a win-win because of the atmosphere and how supportive the fans are of the softball program but of all the those who have suffered from ovarian cancer. It was just a really special day. The energy in the stadium was electric. I felt it run through me, and I know everyone else felt it run through themselves as well.”

On Ashley Czechner’s performance …
“I had so much fun catching Ashley today. It was awesome to see her establish strikes right away. I felt like they didn’t really know what to do. It was like they were so shocked at the first-pitch strike. They were flustered after that. It was fun to see Ashley thrive off of that. I just had so much fun watching her do so well. She held them to two hits and no runs.”

On the key to tomorrow’s rubber game…
“I think tomorrow’s game is going to be tougher than tonight’s game. We need to stay within ourselves and bring the same energy tomorrow that we brought today. The coaches have been saying from the get-go that we need to win every single series. We know how big this is in the long run. We need to come out tomorrow strong, and we need to bring that same energy we brought today.”

On her two-hit effort …
“I have been struggling a little bit at the plate for the past couple of weeks. I told myself to forget everything that happened before and just have fun. I saw the ball really well today. I told myself to look for one pitch, don’t get out of your element and just stay within yourself. I do what I know I can do. I know that I can do that almost every single time. I stayed confident, and I feel really good about myself right now.”

 

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