BATON ROUGE, La. – After tying the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the fourth inning, the No. 17 LSU softball team was unable to keep pace with tenth-ranked Texas, giving up four runs in the top of the fifth and another run in the top of the sixth to fall to the Longhorns 6-1 in the season opener for both teams at Tiger Park.
After falling behind by one in a tense affair after three innings, Sandra Simmons tripled to center with two outs on the board to give the Tigers (0-1) life nearly midway through the contest. She scored on the very next play after a sharp single by Allison Falcon to center field, knotting the game at 1-1.
The Tigers were only able to muster four hits in the game, coming from Simmons, Falcon, Hailey Smith and Jacee Blades, and were unable to get any momentum going to mount a comeback and cut the Longhorn (1-0) deficit in the later innings.
“I think everything we do is a learning experience,” head coach Beth Torina said. We learn from our wins, we learn from our losses. We will definitely fix some things we saw and continue on.”
Starting pitcher Ashley Czechner took the loss for LSU, lasting five innings and allowing six runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. Czechner threw 99 pitches in the game, and was relieved by Kelsee Selman, who threw the final two innings and had a walk and a strikeout. Czechner retired the first six batters she faced on the evening, while Selman retired the last five.
“They are a really powerful offensive team,” Czechner said. “We played a good game, I just threw two bad pitches I wish I could get back.”
Texas’ Gabby Smith went the distance and allowed just one run to the Tigers on 99 pitches as well, striking out two and walking two others. Smith retired the final 10 LSU batters in order beginning in the fourth inning, as only two balls left the infield during that stretch.
LSU threatened early, as a consecutive walks to Blades and Bianka Bell put two runners on with just one out on the board. A deep fly ball out to right field allowed Blades to tag up and advance to third to put runners on the corners, with Bell stealing second after to put two in scoring position. However, an out to right ended the inning and the threat for the home side.
Texas earned the first run of the game in the third after a double from Mandy Ogle and single by Stephanie Ceo put two runners in scoring position for the Longhorns with one out. A sacrifice fly by Brejae Washington to left scored Ogle and gave Texas the early 1-0 lead. Ceo led all players with two hits in the contest, going 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored.
The Longhorns exploded for four runs in the fifth, paced by a three-run home run by Taylor Thom to left field that put Texas up 5-1 with two innings remaining. A solo shot by Lindsey Stephens to open the sixth ended Czechner’s night, as Texas plated the final run of the game to go up 6-1.
“Ultimately, we needed to pitch around Taylor Thom,” Torina said. “We let her be the deciding factor in a game which is something we don’t want to do. We want to try and make someone else beat us, and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
LSU will be back in action tomorrow evening, closing out day one of the Tiger Classic with Minnesota and SIU-Edwardsville at 5 and 7 p.m. at Tiger Park.
SOFTBALL POST GAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On Ashley Czechner’s pitching performance tonight…
“She has to learn to make better mistakes. She has to give us a chance to play defense and make mistakes stay in the ballpark. She is going to do that as the season goes on. I am confident she will bounce back and be just fine.”
On improving from tonight’s loss…
“I think everything we do is a learning experience. We learn from our wins. We learn from our losses. We will definitely fix some things we saw and continue on.”
On Gabby Smith’s pitching performance tonight…
“She threw a good rise ball and kept us off balance with a change up. She did a nice job for them today.”
On what went wrong in the fifth inning…
“Ulitmately we needed to pitch around Taylor Thom. She is their best player and hitter. We let her be the deciding factor in the game which is something we don’t want to do. We want to try to make someone else beat us, and we didn’t do a good job of that. She is a great player. Hats off to her more than anything. She is a fantastic player.”
On LSU’s freshmen performances…
“I liked Sahvanna Jaquish’s approach at the plate. She did a good job. She hit the ball hard, and I thought she was aggressive. I liked what I saw form Kelsee Selman at the end of the game. Obviously, there are a few things to work out, but she showed some really good things in those last couple of innings.”
P ASHLEY CZECHNER
On Texas’ offense…
“They are a really powerful offensive team. We played a good game. I just threw two bad pitches. I wish I could get those pitches back.”
On what went wrong in the fifth inning…
“We got a little out of control. I think we may have needed to slow the game down a little bit more. Like I said, they are a really good team. Texas just hit the ball really hard.”
On what LSU can learn going forward…
“This is our first game. I think the team played really well. Other than those two big hits we played solid defensively. We were hitting their pitcher Douglas very well, nothing seemed to be falling though.”
On using this game as a learning experience…
“Absolutely, this is a learning experience. We have a couple of young people still. I just think we are still trying to learn each other, and our strengths and weaknesses. We can only get stronger from here. It is our first game. We are not looking to lose a game for the rest of the weekend.”
SS BIANKA BELL
On Texas’s performance tonight…
“They came out swinging and doing what they are suppose to do. We just have to fight back and come back tomorrow bringing our all.”
On Gabby Smith’s
“She mixed it up going up and down off speed. I think we were thinking a little too much in the box. She had us fooled. She did a great job with that.”
On moving forward from tonight’s loss…
“We just have to stay within ourselves. We have to play with the best of our ability and hope our pitchers keep on doing what they are doing for us. We have to put the ball in play a little better. We will think about this tonight and come back tomorrow with a better attitude.”