TUCSON, Ariz. – Playing only to earn the right to force a winner-take-all game seven of the 2014 NCAA Tucson Regional, the LSU softball team scored five runs on eight hits and starting pitcher Baylee Corbello held the powerful Arizona offense to just one run on three hits to defeat the Wildcats 5-1 Sunday afternoon at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers (38-23) scored in four straight innings from the third to the sixth and held off multiple Arizona (43-14) rallies throughout the game to hold on for the victory and force the “if” game later this afternoon in Tucson.
Bianka Bell went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored and started the scoring for LSU with her 14th home run of the season in the bottom of the third as the Tigers never looked back from there. Bailey Landry continued to have an outstanding regional going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Sahvanna Jaquish extended her program single-season record home run total to 16 as she went 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored, while A.J. Andrews went 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored and 38th stolen base of the season. Allison Falcon and Constance Quinn had the other two hits for LSU in the game.
Corbello improved to 19-9 on the season after striking out four and walking nine, but the Tiger defense had her back and held the Wildcats down for much of the game on 138 total pitches.
After nearly completing the comeback against the same pitcher yesterday, LSU got to Arizona starter Estella Pinon who fell to 19-8 after allowing all five runs on eight hits with seven walks and two strikeouts.
Arizona earned a walk to open the game, as a sacrifice bunt pushed the runner to second for the first out. After a leaping grab by Jaquish in foul territory for the second, a wild pitch advanced the runner to third to put some pressure on the Tigers. Another walk put runners at the corners for the Wildcats, but an outstanding throw from short on a grounder to Bell kept the run from crossing to keep the game scoreless.
Andrews earned the game’s first hit with a sharp single off of the glove of the shortstop to take first. Landry did enough to put down a bunt single to take first, but Andrews tried to catch the Arizona defense sleeping and motored through second and tried to make her way to third but was thrown out. After a foul out, Bell was walked to put two on for LSU, but a grounder to short ended the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Bell took a first-pitch ball and wouldn’t need much more than that as she pounced on the next and sent it to the bleachers in left for the third time on the weekend to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
After an out on a bunt attempt, Falcon hit a looping single down the left field line to reach first. Quinn followed up with a single up the middle to put two on for LSU, as Alayna Falcon came on to pinch hit and drew a walk to load the bases, with Blades coming back in to run at first after the play. With the defense playing tight for Andrews, she hit a slow chopper to first for the out, but allowed Allison Falcon to score to make it 2-0 Tigers.
Back-to-back walks put two on for the Wildcats in the top of the fifth inning right after the Tigers had gone up two, but an fly ball out to Andrews in center was the first out of the frame. A highlight-reel play was the inning-ending one as well as a soft liner that went off of Wray’s glove at third found its way to Bell who threw out the lead runner at second to get LSU out of the jam with the lead intact.
Looking for an insurance run, LSU got it in the form of a towering-high shot from Jaquish that sailed and sailed until it eventually went over the fence for the solo home run, her third of the regional as well, to give LSU a 3-0 lead after five complete innings.
With two outs after a grounder and a strikeout, a walk and two infield singles loaded the bases for the Wildcats, as a wild pitch brought in one run for Arizona and advanced the other two runners to the next base. Another walk juiced the bases, but fortunately a grounder to Bell at short ended the inning to close the door on Arizona to hold on to a 3-1 lead.
After back-to-back strikeouts, Andrews got hit on the hand to take first for LSU. After stealing second, Landry drilled one down the left field line as Andrews rounded third and beat the tag home to score to make it 4-1 LSU, with Landry moving to second on the throw to the plate. Simone Heyward came in to pinch run as Jaquish earned a walk to put two back on for the Tigers, and on the next play Bell went deep into the count and beat out an infield single as Heyward came in to score from second with Jaquish moving to second to make it a 5-1 ballgame.