LSU's Ashleigh Kuhn had the game-winning RBI against Troy
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Softball Sweeps Purple & Gold Challenge
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Published: March 10, 2012, 09:03 PM (CT)
Updated: March 11, 2012, 01:44 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - With two outs and two runners in scoring position during the bottom of the seventh inning, pinch hitter Ashleigh Kuhn smoked the game-winning single to left field to allow the LSU softball team to notch a 1-0 walkoff victory over Troy Saturday at Tiger Park.

LSU (15-7) also rolled to a 16-0 five-inning win over Mississippi Valley State during the nightcap. The Tigers have won 12 of their last 15 games dating back to Feb. 19.

"I thought today was exactly how we should have come out," head coach Beth Torina said. "We came out and did everything we needed to do.  Luckily, we got a timely hit from Ashleigh Kuhn in the first game. Overall, we had some really strong performances from our players today."

Dylan Supak sparked the Tigers with a leadoff single to open the seventh inning. Pinch runner Alex Boulet was called out at second base on a bang-bang play after a Kailey McCasland bunt attempt.

Two batters later, Morgan Russell cranked a double down the left field which enabled McCasland to scamper into third base to set the stage for Kuhn. On the 0-1 offering, Kuhn laced the walkoff single into left field.

"I finally got one right, made a good decision. But all the credit goes to Ashleigh," Torina said. "She's been swinging so well in practice. I'm always confident in her, and I'm always confident in her in that type of situation. She, in my mind, is the first one off the bench in a pinch-hitting role if she's not already in the lineup."

"I'm really glad I got an opportunity to do that, and I really like being in those types of situations," Kuhn said. "It really didn't feel like pressure, it just felt like I was excited to get up there."

Rachele Fico fired her fourth one-hitter of the season and equaled a season's best 10 strikeouts against one walk. In the process, the junior right-hander improved to 7-3 on the season and became the eighth hurler in program history to amass over 400 career strikeouts.

"We had a pretty healthy mix of pitch calling," Fico said. "Coach Torina was changing planes and working both sides of the plate. We really kept them off balance today. We're always trying to work ahead in counts. Whenever we get ahead, it gives us a lot of room to play with different pitches to try and get the batter to either swing-and-miss or to freeze them up. Today, we were successful with that."

After Troy put two runners on the base paths in the first inning, Fico retired 20 of the final 21 batters she faced. The lone hiccup was a one-out single during the fifth inning. Fico quickly erased the threat with back-to-back Ks to preserve the shutout.

"When she's on, she's really on," Torina said. "There wasn't a moment when anyone had doubt in that game. We were just dominant the entire time, and I feel like she's really throwing well. I'm excited to be going into SEC play with her feeling as well as she is."

Game 2 - LSU 16, Mississippi Valley State 0 [5 Innings]

LSU's offense exploded for 11 of its 16 runs in the first inning. It marked the most runs for the Tiger during an inning since posting a 12-run second inning against Texas Southern on Feb. 26, 2006.

For the game, the Tigers collected a season-high 16 runs on a season-best 13 hits. Ashleigh Kuhn turned in a 2-for-4 effort with a career-high four RBIs, while Ashley Langoni compiled a 2-for-3 performance, scored twice and added three RBIs. Heidi Pizer and Dylan Supak also picked up a pair of RBIs.

A.J. Andrews, Ashley Applegate, Rikki Alcaraz, Lauren Houston and Tammy Vermeulen joined Langoni by crossing the plate two times apiece.

Applegate opened the game and ripped a double down the left field line. Allison Falcon drew a walk aided by an illegal pitch which placed runners on the corners. Langoni knocked the first of her two RBIs singles during the frame through the left side for the game's first run.

Supak and Tammy Wray followed with singles up the middle sandwiched between a Mississippi Valley State error during a rundown to make it 4-0.

Houston was hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases. Making her first career start at designated player, Vermeulen tacked on a RBI on a fielder's choice before Andrews and Applegate followed with walks to refill the bases and push the LSU edge to 6-0.

Falcon kept the frame going and reached base via a Mississippi Valley State fielding error, while Langoni platted two more runs on a single to centerfield to extend the LSU advantage to 9-0. Kuhn ripped another two-run single to complete the 11-run frame. 

LSU pushed across five more runs in the second inning as Kuhn, Pizer and Supak all struck for RBI singles for the final margin of 16-0.

Brittany Mack notched five strikeouts against one walk during her three stanzas of work. She improved to 6-4 on the season, while Meghan Patterson worked two spotless innings of relief and retired four of the six batters she faced via the strikeout.

LSU embarks on SEC action with a Wednesday doubleheader versus Auburn. It marks the program's annual "Gold Game" along with Student Point Night.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Tiger Park, and the game will be broadcasted live on 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge. Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe will call the action.

Follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live stats on www.LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans also can receive live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.

2012 Purple & Gold Challenge All-Tournament Team

Allison Falcon - LSU
Rachele Fico - LSU
Hayden Gann - Troy
Ashleigh Kuhn - LSU
Ashley Langoni - LSU
Alicia Lorenz - Mississippi Valley State
Meghan Patterson - LSU
Ashley Rainey - Troy
Dylan Supak - LSU

Softball Postgame Quotes
LSU vs. Troy & Mississippi Valley State - March 10, 2012

Head Coach Beth Torina

On the two wins today ...
"I thought today was exactly how we should have come out.  We came out and did everything we needed to do.  Luckily, we got a timely hit from Ashleigh Kuhn in the first game [against Troy]. Overall, we had some really strong performances from our players today."

On Kuhn's game-winning hit ...
"I finally got one right, made a good decision.  But all the credit goes to Ashleigh.  She's been swinging so well in practice. I always am confident in her, and I'm always confident in her in that type of situation.  She, in my mind, is the first one off the bench in a pinch-hitting role if she's not already in the lineup."

On Rachele Fico's pitching performance ...
"When she's on, she's really on.  There wasn't a moment when anyone had doubt in that game. We were just dominant the entire time, and I feel like she's really throwing well. I'm excited to be going into SEC play with her feeling as well as she is."

On the pitching staff as a whole on the weekend ...
"I truly believe we have one of the best staffs in the nation, so honestly their performance doesn't surprise me.  I think it's what we expect them to do.  They're extremely talented, and they showed that again this weekend."

On hitting being contagious ...
"What I was really happy with over the weekend was that we got to play a lot of different players. They all got a little bit of time in different roles which will keep us really sharp heading into SEC play. That way we know that everyone is prepared for whatever situation we might be in."

On Wednesday's doubleheader with Auburn ...
"We're ready, and we're excited to get SEC play going.  We're going to prepare for them Monday and Tuesday in practice and we'll give them our best game, without question."

Infielder Ashleigh Kuhn

On her game-winning hit ... 
"I'm really glad I got an opportunity to do that, and I really like being in those types of situations. It really didn't feel like pressure, it just felt like I was excited to get up there."

On the offense ...
"I think we're getting in a groove, and we're just working hard at practice so we're just starting to see it. Hitting is definitely contagious.  Like in the second game [against Mississippi Valley State], we just kept it going.  It was great.  We hadn't done that in a while, but I'm glad we're starting to find it."


Pitcher Rachele Fico

On her performance versus Troy ...
"I just do everything I can; try and hit my spots to the best of my ability to keep my team in it and to keep the other team off balance. [Ashleigh] Kuhn did a fantastic job.  She came in off the bench and got the winning hit for us. You couldn't ask anything more from a player like that."

On what was working for her ...
"We had a pretty healthy mix of pitch calling. Coach Torina was changing planes and working both sides of the plate. We really kept them off balance today. We're always trying to work ahead in counts. Whenever we get ahead, it gives us a lot of room to play with different pitches to try and get the batter to either swing-and-miss or to freeze them up. Today we were successful with that."

On recording her 400th strikeout ...
"I'm so lucky to play on a team that has this kind of pitching staff.  We have so much depth, and we're so talented. We make one another better because we offset each other so well. Brittany [Mack] faced them [Troy] the day before, and it gives me an advantage because I have another look to come at them with." 

On starting SEC action ...
"We just really need to keep going with this momentum we have.  We've swung the bats great this weekend. We came out and scored really, really early in the games. It really set the tempo, and we just need to continue doing that."

 

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