ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 8 LSU softball team was handed a 10-5 defeat by Georgia behind the Bulldogs seven-run rally in the sixth inning Sunday during the regular season finale for both teams as 1,202 fans gathered at Jack Turner Stadium.
Kellsi Kloss turned in a 3-for-4 performance with two RBIs to fuel the Tigers, the three hits for Kloss were a career-high. Bianka Bell added a 2-for-3 effort and scored two runs. For Bell, it was her 16th multi-hit game of the season. Sandra Simmons tacked on a RBI, while Rikki Alcaraz ripped a two-run double.
Ashley Czechner was tagged with her first loss of the season and fell to 10-1. She was touched up a career-best 10 runs, nine earned, on 10 hits. She registered two strikeouts against one walk.
Georgia was led by Paige Wilson’s 3-for-4 performance and four RBIs. She belted a three-run homer followed by a Geri Ann Glasco solo shot to cap the Bulldogs seven-run sixth inning.
LSU (40-13, 15-8 SEC) and Georgia (37-18, 14-9 SEC) will meet again Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament. First pitch is slated for 12:30 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
“It’s tough for our team to have to go on the road the week before their final exams,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Overall, I think it takes a toll on our team because they are spread in a lot of different directions. That’s not taking anything away from Georgia, they are a quality program. They do a great job with their offense and are difficult outs up-and-down their lineup.”
The Bulldogs ran out to a 2-0 advantage in the second inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Anna Swafford attempted to steal second base. Her slide on the tag attempt by Bell jarred the ball loose and enabled Niaja Griffin to cross the plate with the game’s first run. Wilson followed with a RBI double off the right field wall to make it 2-0.
LSU fired back with two runs of its own in the fourth inning. Bell opened the frame and reached base on a fielding error by the UGA second baseman. Two batters later, Kloss knocked a single into centerfield. Both runners were able to score as Alcaraz laced a 1-2 offering for a two-run double into the left centerfield gap to knot the score at 2-2.
The Tigers added three more runs during the fifth inning. Simone Heyward chopped a single into centerfield and advanced to second base as A.J. Andrews reached on another fielding miscue by the UGA second baseman.
A Jacee Blades ground out moved both runners into scoring position. Bell was issued a walk, and Simmons was hit-by-a-pitch to give LSU a 3-2 edge. Kloss smacked a two-run single to left field to extend the lead to 5-2.
Georgia got back to within 5-3 on a Swafford solo home run down the left field line to open up the home half of the fifth inning.
The Bulldogs sent 10 batters to the plate and exploded for seven runs during the sixth inning. LSU thought it had the frame’s second out at third base, but an interference call on Alcaraz at second base for running into pinch runner Samantha LaZear put runners on the corners.
Katie Browne connected for a two-run double that knotted the score at 5-5 and found a spot on the grass past a diving Blades and Andrews in the left centerfield gap.
Griffin legged out an infield single to place runners on the corners. Swafford notched the go-ahead RBI on a fielding error by LSU third baseman Tammy Wray. Wilson and Glasco cranked back-to-back dingers to straight-away centerfield for the final margin of 10-5.
“Our defense wasn’t as solid today as it usually is,” Torina said. “It’s hard to play perfect defense all the time because Georgia’s offense hits the ball extremely hard and makes you cover the entire field. Ashley did a good job overall and kept them off-balanced for several innings. She just couldn’t finish it and got a couple of tough breaks. I think it’s tough for any pitcher to finish it against that type of offense.”
LSU put together a threat in the seventh inning as the Tigers loaded the bases. However, pinch hitter Hailey Smith grounded out for the game’s final out.
UGA’s Morgan Montemayor fired two innings of three-hit ball in relief to tally the victory and improve to 12-6 on the season. Glasco went the first five innings for the Bulldogs in the circle and surrendered five runs, three earned, on six hits. She picked up four strikeouts versus one walk.
In addition to the ESPNU telecast, Thursday’s SEC Tournament Quarterfinal versus Georgia will be broadcasted on the LSU Sports Radio Network and Country Legend’s 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area. The game also will be available to Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
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.
“The SEC Tournament and postseason play is a whole new season, everybody goes back to being 0-0,” Torina said. “This is where it gets exciting. I think this is a type of team that is going to excel in that type of setting because they really like the pressure. They like to compete, and they like to fight. I think we’ll be a very good postseason team.”
Below is a complete schedule for next week’s SEC Tournament hosted by the University of Kentucky.
2013 SEC Tournament Schedule (May 8-11)
Wednesday, May 8
Game 1: No. 8 Alabama vs. No. 9 Texas A&M (3 p.m. CT – ESPNU)
Game 2: No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 10 South Carolina (5:30 p.m. CT – ESPNU)
Thursday, May 9
Game 3: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Alabama/No. 9 Texas A&M (10 a.m. CT – ESPNU)
Game 4: No. 4 LSU vs. No. 5 Georgia (12:30 p.m. CT – ESPNU)
Game 5: No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 6 Arkansas (3 p.m. CT – ESPNU)
Game 6: No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Kentucky/No. 10 South Carolina (6:30 p.m. CT – ESPN)
Friday, May 10
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner (2 p.m. CT – ESPNU)
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (4:30 p.m. CT – ESPNU)
Saturday, May 11
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (7 p.m. CT – ESPN)