LSU celebrates the series-clinching win.
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
No. 12 Softball Dumps No. 4 Alabama, 2-1
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Published: April 26, 2013, 08:42 PM (CT)
Updated: April 26, 2013, 09:43 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The No. 12 LSU softball team used  solid performances in all three phases of the game to secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory over No. 4 Alabama Friday as a program-record 2,651 spirited fans gathered at Tiger Park.
 
With the win, LSU (39-11, 14-6 SEC) extends its lead to two games over the Crimson Tide 40-9, 12-8 SEC) in the SEC Western Division standings. The Tigers have collected seven straight home decisions over Alabama going back to the 2008 season.

LSU’s slappers of A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Simone Heyward combined for a 5-for-7 effort and scored both runs. Andrews and Blades picked up their team-leading 16th and 15th multi-hit performances of the season. Bianka Bell and Allison Falcon accounted for RBIs on sacrifice flies.

“This was exciting and awesome for the fans who came out and gave us support,” head coach Beth Torina said. “What a great atmosphere we have had the last few nights at Tiger Park. I thought the defense was the key tonight. They have some really quick slappers at the top of their lineup like we have. We handled them really well from the left side of our infield. Then we came up with some key hits at some good moments. The slappers (A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Simone Heyward) on our side were awesome. They were on-base all night. I thought they caused a lot of problems for their defense.”

Ashley Czechner went the distance in the circle for the Tigers and moved her unblemished mark to 10-0 for the season. The South Carolina native scattered one run on eight hits and recorded one strikeout versus two walks.

“Her (Czechner) track record before she came to LSU was she is a big game pitcher,” Torina said. “The more pressure she has, the better she is. I think she is showing us that all the time. I am glad she pitched the entire game tonight. I thought she was fantastic. I felt really confident putting her back out there in the seventh, and she did exactly what we needed her to do.”

LSU’s defense neutralized the Crimson Tide running game as catcher Kellsi Kloss threw out a pair of Alabama baserunners attemping to steal bases. The Tiger infield registered nine ground ball outs highlighted by Bell’s four assists from the shortstop position.

“Bianka [Bell] and Kellsi [Kloss] just played a phenomenal game,” Czechner said. “Bianka was basically playing second base with some of those plays she made. Kellsi threw out two runners. To throw out two people especially against Alabama, is just phenomenal. Tammy [Wray], Sandra [Simmons] and Allison [Falcon] also made some really great plays on the infield. I could not have done it without them.”

The Crimson Tide threatened to dent the scoreboard during the first inning. Alabama opened the contest with back-to-back singles from Kaila Braud and Haylie McCleney. Two batters later, Molly Fichtner coaxed a walk to load the bases with one out.

Czechner found her bearings and kept the Crimson Tide scoreless. She induced a popup and a ground ball back to circle. 
LSU jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the home half of the frame. Andrews and Blades set the table with a double and single, respectively. Andrews raced to the plate after Falcon lifted a sacrifice fly to centerfield for the game’s first run.

Alabama attempted to respond with the equalizer during the second inning. With runners on first and second base and two outs, McCleney punched a single to right field. Danielle Richard sprinted toward home plate, but Heyward gunned her down at the plate for the third out of the frame.

LSU added another run in the third inning. Heyward, Andrews and Blades pieced together three straight singles to load the bases. Bell cranked a sacrifice fly to deep left field to push LSU’s lead to 2-0. 

The Crimson Tide broke through and trimmed the deficit down to 2-1 with a Richard home run to left field with one out during the fourth inning.

Alabama put the tying run into scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings. Czechner forced the Crimson Tide into a fly out with a runner at third base during the fifth and caught Richard attempting to swipe third base to end the threat in the sixth.   

Leslie Jury was tagged with the loss and dropped to 15-4 on the season. She surrendered two runs on six hits and came away with one strikeout against three walks.

Czechner retired the Crimson Tide in order for her first 1-2-3 stanza to wrap up the 2-1 triumph.

“It feels great,” Falcon said. “We came in here with a plan, and we executed. It feels really good to set a goal and accomplish it. This crowd was jumping. It was a lot of fun to play here. Hopefully, we can get a lot of people out here tomorrow too for Senior Day.”

The series finale is scheduled for Saturday 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 Kent Lowe will have the radio call.

LSU will pay tribute to Rachele Fico, Katie Guillory and Lauren Houston as part of Senior Day festivities after Saturday’s game. The first 500 fans will receive a LSU foam claw.


LSU Softball Postgame Quotes – April 26, 2013
No. 12 LSU vs. No. 4 Alabama

HEAD COACH BETH TORINA

On tonight’s win over Alabama in-front of a record-breaking crowd …
“This was exciting and awesome for the fans who came out and gave us support. What a great atmosphere we have had the last few nights at Tiger Park. I thought the defense was the key tonight. We played great defense. They have some really quick slappers at the top of their lineup like we have. We handled them really well from the left side of our infield. I thought we played fantastic defense. Then we came up with some key hits at some good moments. The slappers on our side were awesome. They were on-base all night. I thought they caused a lot of problems for their defense.”

On Ashley Czechner’s pitching performance…
“Her track record before she came to LSU was she is a big game pitcher. The more pressure she has, the better she is. I think she is showing us that all the time. I am glad she pitched the entire game tonight. I thought she was fantastic. I felt really confident putting her back out there in the seventh, and she did exactly what we needed her to do.”

On LSU’s defense…
“I think that is how you win big games by playing really solid defense. I thought Bianka [Bell] was great, Kellsi [Kloss] threw out some runners. There were so many sinereos where our defense kept us in the ball game.”

On the LSU’s offense…
“A lot of that is our slappers [A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Simone Heyward] being on base. I thought they did a great job of making things happen and putting the pressure on them. Having those guys on base, I feel really good we will score somehow.”

On tomorrow’s series finale …
“I think we have to continue having quality at-bats against their ace Jackie Traina. I think we did the first time around on Thursday night. Hopefully, we can do the same thing. On the defensive side, we have to continue to keep their speed off base.”

2B ALLISON FALCON

On winning tonight’s game in-front of a record crowd …
“It feels great. We came in here with a plan, and we executed. It feels really good to set a goal and accomplish it. This crowd was jumping. It was a lot of fun to play here. Hopefully, we can get a lot of people out here tomorrow too for Senior Day.”

On how the crowd impacted the game…
“I am a very emotional player. As long as the crowd is up, that keeps me up. A lot of my teammates are the same way. It really does help.”

On Ashley Czechner’s performance…
“(Ashley) Czech (Czechner) did a really good job of getting ahead. She was just amazing today. When she pitches like that, it makes us settle down. She was doing a great job of getting us fired up too.”

On LSU’s defense tonight…
“Kellsi (Kloss) did very well behind the plate. Defensively, we prepared for their slappers. Our left side of the infield did a lot of short ball game stuff all week to prepare for their nine, one and two hitters.”

On tomorrow’s series finale …
“We definitely have to come out and play big like we did today. We are not going to be intimidated by them. We are just going to come in here and do what we’ve been doing these past two games.”

PITCHER ASHLEY CZECHNER

On tonight’s record crowd…
“I think the fans were incredible tonight, and I just think that they were a definite game-changer. The momentum shifts – when they are quiet, the momentum is on the opponents’ side. But when they are loud, the momentum shifts back to us. They were pumped up the entire night so I knew we were going to win this game.”

On her pitching strategy throughout the game…
“In the first couple of innings, I was able to establish a strike zone. It was not as well as I should have. I felt like I was pitching pretty carefully, and I didn’t want to give up any runs in the first three innings. Once I gave up that home run (in the fourth inning), I was ready to go back out there and throw as hard as I could. I knew not be afraid about giving up anything else.”

On the help she got from the defense tonight…
“Bianka [Bell] and Kellsi [Kloss] just played a phenomenal game. Bianka was basically playing second base with some of those plays she made. Kellsi threw out two runners. To throw out two people especially against Alabama, is just phenomenal. Tammy [Wray], Sandra [Simmons] and Allison [Falcon] also made some really great plays on the infield. I could not have done it without them.”

On the confidence the defense gives her on the mound…
“I’m a lot more confident. When we’re playing well, we’re not letting anything get through the infield. I just feel like I can throw any pitch, and I know they are going to be there.”

On getting out a bases loaded jam in the first inning…
“I think it was just one of those innings. It was the first inning, and I was just trying to settle in. I was definitely very careful for about the first three innings, but that didn’t help me a whole lot. As I settled in, I was confident we were going to get the next batters out even when they had runners on-base.”

 

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