Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Softball Drops 1-0 Decision to No. 21 UL-Lafayette
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Published: May 19, 2013, 05:58 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The No. 9 national seed LSU softball team was unable to climb out of the loser’s bracket at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional as No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette picked up a 1-0 victory over the Tigers Sunday as 1,688 fans gathered at Tiger Park. 

LSU (42-16), facing elimination for the second time on the weekend, was unable to get the timely hit against ULL’s Jordan Wallace. The sophomore right-hander worked around four hits, four walks and two hit-batters to enable the Cajuns to punch their ticket to the program’s third consecutive NCAA Super Regional. Wallace stranded seven of LSU’s 10 baserunners in scoring position and improved to 31-7 on the season.

“Congratulations to ULL,” head coach Beth Torina said. “They have a quality team and a quality program. They did a really good job this weekend. They were tough for us. Obviously, this is not what we were expecting. This is not the type of softball that we’ve played all year. We should play better than we did this weekend. We’re a quality program, and I think that’s what matters. We’ll learn a lot from it, and we’ll get back to work. We have a fantastic team, and I have enjoyed every bit of this season. I love this team and how hard they fought.”

Trailing 1-0, LSU put together its best scoring opportunity during the seventh inning. Simone Heyward worked her way to a one-out walk, while A.J. Andrews and Jacee Blades followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases.

On the first pitch of the sequence, Bianka Bell popped out to Wallace in the pitcher’s circle. Wallace completed her third shutout of the weekend and got Allison Falcon to strike out for the game’s final out.

“If we had the bases loaded again with the season on the line, I would put Bianka Bell at the plate every single day and twice on Sunday,” Torina said. “There is not one question in my mind. If I had to put someone at the plate, I would put Bianka Bell there every single time. She’s not going to get a hit every single time – I think that’s clear. But I’m still going to count on that kid every single time. She’s a fantastic player, and she is a name you will know as a part of this program for years to come.”

ULL (46-13) scored the game’s lone run in the first inning. Nerissa Myers knocked a leadoff double off the left centerfield wall on a 3-1 offering. She moved over to third base on Brianna Cherry’s fly out to right field and crossed the plate on Sarah Draheim’s sharp ground ball that rolled through the legs of Bell at shortstop and into left field.

Rachele Fico was the tough-luck loser and retired the final nine batters she faced. The Connecticut native wrapped up her illustrious career with a 78-43 record and 797 strikeouts. The 797 Ks and 78 wins rank third and fourth, respectively, in program history. It marked the 18th time that Fico received zero runs of support. 

“She is one of the bravest people that I know,” Torina said. “She is an unbelievable competitor. For that kid to go out there and pitch those two games the way she did and stay focused with her dad going through everything that he is going through as he continues to fight, for her to do that when he is not in such great condition, I cannot imagine what that takes. She is such a special, special competitor. I’ve said it since the day I got here. The talent that Rachele Fico brings to this program is such a small part of what she brings to this program. She is just an amazing person and a teammate. She’s a kid that everyone would die to coach.”

LSU finished with 40 victories for the 15th time in 17 seasons since softball was reinstated in 1997. It marked the final game in the careers of Fico, Katie Guillory and Lauren Houston for the Purple and Gold. The Tigers are slated to return 16 letterwinners for the 2014 season.

2013 NCAA Baton Rouge All-Regional Team

MVP: Jordan Wallace, ULL
Arielle Bruno, Central Connecticut State
Brianna Cherry, ULL
Ashley Czechner, LSU
Rachele Fico, LSU
Nerissa Myers, ULL
Jordan Palmer, Northwestern State
Evie Rentzel, Central Connecticut State
Sandra Simmons, LSU

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LSU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
May 19, 2013

LSU Head Coach Beth Torina

Opening statement…
“Congratulations to ULL. They have a quality team and a quality program. They did a really good job this weekend. They were tough for us. Obviously, this is not what we were expecting. This is not the type of softball that we’ve played all year. We should play better than we did this weekend. We’re a quality program, and I think that’s what matters. We’ll learn a lot from it, and we’ll get back to work. We have a fantastic team, and I have enjoyed every bit of this season. I love this team and how hard they fought.”

On Bianka Bell’s seventh inning at-bat…
“If we had the bases loaded again with the season on the line, I would put Bianka Bell at the plate every single day and twice on Sunday. There is not one question in my mind. If I had to put someone at the plate, I would put Bianka Bell there every single time. She’s not going to get a hit every single time – I think that’s clear. But I’m still going to count on that kid every single time. She’s a fantastic player, and she is a name you will know as a part of this program for years to come.”

On Rachele Fico’s performance…
“She is one of the bravest people that I know. She is an unbelievable competitor. For that kid to go out there and pitch those two games the way she did and stay focused with her dad going through everything that he is going through as he continues to fight, for her to do that when he is not in such great condition, I cannot imagine what that takes. She is such a special, special competitor. I’ve said it since the day I got here. The talent that Rachele Fico brings to this program is such a small part of what she brings to this program. She is just an amazing person and a teammate. She’s a kid that everyone would die to coach.”

OF A.J. Andrews

On which team had the momentum toward the end of the game…
“I felt like the momentum was on our side toward the seventh inning because we are a team that does not give up until the very end.”

On Rachele Fico’s performance…
Rachele Fico is a competitor. She is one of the hardest competitors that I’ve ever seen in my life. I feel like she is a rare breed because if something was wrong with her, you would never know it. She just balls out and plays her heart out every chance she gets. She goes as hard as possible. She’s just fierce as one can get. She’s worked hard every single day for this moment. I don’t think she would let anything get in her way of performing the way she did. She is just an amazing pitcher, and I just feel bad that the offense could not get it done for her today.”

SS Bianka Bell

On her performance during the NCAA Regional…
“I feel like I pushed a little too much and tried to do a little too much for too many people at one time. It showed, and it definitely did not do too well for my team.”

On Rachele Fico’s performance…
“She is a competitor. She threw the best I’ve seen since I’ve been here at LSU. She’s awesome, and I’m sorry that we could not step up for her today because she definitely deserved to win both games today and yesterday.”

LSU vs. ULL
Baton Rouge Regional
May 18, 2013

ULL Head Coach Michael Lotief

Opening Statement
“First of all I’d like to thank the NCAA for a first class regional. We’ve been fortunate to host, and we’ve also been on the road numerous times. The experience is supposed to be in the best interest of the student-athletes, and it was. I’ve saying this all season, I’m so proud of these girls. They’ve worked so hard. They care about to each other. They believe in their dreams, and they’ve overcome tremendous obstacles. When you get into some of these dogfights, a lot of it is luck. The game rewarded us, and we understand that. LSU is a worthy opponent, and that was a well-played college softball game.

On the last inning…
“Early on in my career, I called the pitches. Then, I went away from it. This year, I resumed the responsibility. Believe it or not, it’s my responsibility to keep Jordan (Wallace) calm and focused on the next pitch. My doing that it keeps me calm. Otherwise, I would be all over the place. She kept me calm though as well.”

On how Jordan Wallace stays calm…
“What she did today was phenomenal. She is only a sophomore, and Rachele (Fico) is a senior. Last year, she was basically the number two. She went through her share of struggles early in the season. The crowd was trying to intimidate her, the hitters made adjustments. As the game wore on, you could see she lost some velocity. I saw a lot of heart, will and fight. She is a warrior and a winner.”

Pitcher Jordan Wallace

On LSU’s adjustments…
“They moved up on the plate and made me take away some of the inside pitches. Their slappers got on base a lot more today.”

On competing against Rachele Fico
“I very much respect Rachele Fico. She is a very good pitcher, and I knew it would be a pitching battle. She is an All-American, and she is amazing. I knew it would be a fight.”

Shortstop Narissa Meyers

On the double in the first inning…
“When we were at batting practice, Coach Mike told us to keep taking our shots. I like to be patient, but I thought what better pitch to take my shot.”

On scoring early…
“It’s always a difference maker with a run on the board. It helps Jordan (Wallace), but it also gives her a little cushion. Of course, we would have loved to score more than one run. With that run though, we know she can still go confidently   in there and play here game. The ultimate goal is to make her feel as comfortable as possible.”

 

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