LSU's Rachele Fico
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
No. 13 Softball Posts Two Shutouts of Samford
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Published: March 30, 2013, 08:53 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The No. 13 LSU softball team came away with a pair of 4-0 and 8-0 victories over Samford to conclude the March portion of its schedule Saturday as 1,373 fans gathered at Tiger Park.

In the process, LSU (30-7) picked up its 29th and 30th victories of the season. The Tigers have now collected 15 shutout victories on the season and received solid efforts from Rachele Fico, Ashley Czechner and Meghan Patterson in the circle. The trio limited the Bulldogs (10-20) to five hits and racked up a combined 18 strikeouts versus three walks.

LSU’s offense pounded out 15 hits highlighted by its 10th double digit performance during the second game. The top three hitters in the batting order – A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades and Bianka Bell combined to go 8-for-18 with five runs scored and accounted for eight of the team’s 10 RBIs on the day.

“We did a good job especially in the second game of doing some detailed things and taking some extra bases,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We were really putting our runners in good spots in scoring position. Our speed was a lot better today. Our slappers put the ball on the ground, and we were able to get on base a little bit more. They had a much better day which enabled us to do a lot more things on the bases.”

Andrews led off game two with a single and scored all the way from first base on a throwing error by the Samford third baseman for the game’s first run. The Tigers have won all 15 games on the season when plating a run during the first inning.

LSU exploded four a quartet of runs during the second inning. Dylan Supak, Simone Heyward and Andrews set the table for the Tigers with a walk, a single and hit batter to fill the bases with Purple & Gold. After Blades smacked an infield single to extend the lead 2-0, Bell smacked a bases clearing double down the left field line to enable LSU to surge ahead by a 5-0 margin.

The Tigers tacked on single runs during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to complete the 8-0 victory. Allison Falcon, Andrews and Kellsi Kloss provided the RBI singles.

“They all did a great job of not only getting on-base but driving in runs when the opportunities presented themselves,” Torina said. “They did some things really well that we have worked on. They didn’t try to do too much, and they were able to make adjustments when they needed to. They were able to come up and get some confidence back too.”

Ashley Czechner equaled a season’s best with eight strikeouts and tossed five innings of three-hit ball. The junior right-hander improved her record to 8-0 on the season and hasn’t allowed a run in three of her last four starts dating back to March 13. She gave way to Meghan Patterson, who struck out the side in the sixth inning.

“Everything was working pretty well today except my rise,” Czechner said. “My rise ball was a little off. I was definitely trying to mix in pitches that I don’t really use as much such as changeup. I was focusing on making things move, and my game plan was to stay on the corners as much as I could.”
Game 1 – No. 13 LSU 4, Samford 0
Samford loaded the bases on LSU starter Rachele Fico after a pair of soft singles and a walk. Fico kept the Bulldogs off the board and escaped the jam after she forced a popup.

The Tigers made the most of a pair of walks and two hit batters during the second inning. An A.J. Andrews walk forced in the game’s first run.

LSU manufactured a run to extend its lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning. Lauren Houston ripped a leadoff single to left centerfield, moved to second base on Alex Boulet's sacrifice bunt, advanced to third base on A.J. Andrews’ ground ball to right side of the infield and scored on Jacee Blades' infield single.

The Tigers tacked on another run during the fifth inning. Allison Falcon drew a leadoff walk and raced over to third base after two ground balls. A wild pitch allowed Falcon to scamper home with LSU’s third run of the contest.

LSU added an insurance run in the sixth inning to cap its 4-0 victory. Once again, the Tigers made Samford pay for an opening walk as Andrews stole second and crossed the plate on Bell’s RBI single through the left side.

“I just love when people in front of me make things happen and give me the opportunities to do things like that,” Bell said. “I thank A.J. (Andrews), Jacee (Blades) or whoever is in front of me for getting me up there with runners on-base. I try to stay relaxed and make things happen.”

After getting out of that first inning jam, Fico found her groove and went to sit down 17 straight Samford batters. Only one ball left the infield during the dominant stretch. The senior right-hander mowed down the side around a one-out walk to complete her 10th shutout of the season. Fico improved her record to 17-5 on the season.

LSU embarks on a nine-game road swing to start the month of April as the Tigers visit Florida State, a team who is receiving votes in the latest edition of the Top 25 polls, for a Wednesday doubleheader. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. CT with both games being broadcasted live by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and available online for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

Fans also 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.

LSU Softball Postgame Quotes
No. 13 LSU vs. Samford – March 30, 2013

HEAD COACH BETH TORINA

On today’s doubleheader…
“We did a good job especially in the second game of doing some detailed things and taking some extra bases. We were really putting our runners in good spots in scoring position. Our speed was a lot better today. Our slappers put the ball on the ground, and we were able to get on base a little bit more. They had a much better day which enabled us to do a lot more things on the bases.”

On the team’s play defensively today…
“They were really solid today. I thought our pitching staff with our defense was really solid. That always goes hand-in-hand. When you get good pitching, it is a lot easier to play defense. We did both really well today.”

On the top of the lineup’s performance in the double header…
“They all did a great job of not only getting on-base but driving in runs when the opportunities presented themselves. They did some things really well that we have worked on. They didn’t try to do too much, and they were able to make adjustments when they needed to. They were able to come up and get some confidence back too.”

On moving on to face Florida State…
“(Florida State) is a tough team. They have two solid pitchers. We have to play them in a doubleheader so it will definitely be challenging. They are a very athletic team. I know they play well at home so it will be a big challenge for us.”

PITCHER ASHLEY CZECHNER

On bouncing back from Wednesday’s loss…
“South Alabama played really well that night, and nothing was really going our way. Today we wanted to make a statement as a pitching staff saying we are solid and ready for Florida State and Arkansas next week.”

On her performance on the mound…
“Everything was working pretty well today except my rise. My rise ball was a little off. I was definitely trying to mix in pitches that I don’t really use as much such as changeup. I was focusing on making things move, and my game plan was to stay on the corners as much as I could.”

On looking ahead to the month of April…
“We are really looking forward to this upcoming month. It is going to be such a tough month for us, but we are definitely ready. Starting with Florida State, they are a great program. Coach (Lonni) Alameda is a very good coach. They are going to be ready. It is going to be a tough game for us, but I think if we play LSU softball we should be able to get both wins.”

SHORTSTOP BIANKA BELL

On the success at the top of the lineup…
“We were all basically just trying to create something and get things started for our team. We definitely didn’t do much of that on Wednesday during the South Alabama game. The mindset was to try and get on-base and let the back of the lineup hit us in.”

On building off of today’s wins…
“Today’s games were a confidence builder for us. We are going to take what we have now into Florida State and Arkansas this next week. Those will be tough games for us, and we will have to use that to motivate us to do better.”

On delivering at the plate with runners on base…
“I just love when people in front of me make things happen and give me the opportunities to do things like that. I thank A.J. (Andrews), Jacee (Blades) or whoever is in front of me for getting me up there with runners on-base. I try to stay relaxed and make things happen.”

 

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