BATON ROUGE, La. - One day after pitching a gem in her first start and taking the loss, freshman Baylee Corbello returned to the circle on Friday and faced another stiff test in Oklahoma State in the team’s first game of the night at the Tiger Classic and completely stifled the visitors allowing just one hit with 13 strikeouts to earn the first win of her collegiate career and propel No. 17 LSU to a 1-0 victory over the Cowgirls.
For three-plus innings, Corbello looked unhittable, and was, as Oklahoma State (2-2) didn’t record its first hit until the sixth inning, after the Lake Charles, La., native at one point had retired 11-straight Cowgirls in order from the last batter of the first until the second batter of the fifth. She becomes just the fourth freshmen pitcher in team history to record double-digit strikeouts in back-to-back games in LSU history.
“It was exciting,” Corbello said. “It was really nice to have that kind of offense behind me and an amazing defense as well.
“It gives me all the confidence in the world to pitch to any batter because I know they are behind me.”
Fortunately, the Tigers got the only run it would need in the second inning as Sandra Simmons hit a booming shot over the fence in right field for her first home run of the season to give LSU the 1-0 early lead. It was the first of only three hits for the Tigers on the night, as the next two came in consecutive at bats from Bianka Bell and Sahvannah Jaquish in the fourth. The duo would be the last two players to reach scoring position for the night, as the Tigers had a bases loaded opportunity by the end of the inning but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
“I was just trying to get on top of the ball and get a lead for our team,” Simmons said. “(Corbello) was pitching very hard on the mound, and she deserved some runs to work with.”
Things got hairy for the Tigers beginning in the fifth, as after getting a strikeout, Corbello walked the next two to put two on. Fortunately, OSU popped up and helped the Tigers turn a double play to end the inning.
In the very next sequence for OSU, the freshman would have to work out of another jam after a lead-off walk and single with one out, but still got the final two batters to strike out swinging to end the inning.
Down to their final three outs, Oklahoma State got three consecutive walks to load the bases and put the pressure on LSU to close the door. The ball wouldn’t need to travel much further than from pitcher to catcher, as strikeouts 12 and 13 came on the next two plays to end the game.
“I like seeing all of the great things our freshman are doing,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I’m excited about those guys stepping up, because that takes a lot of pressure off of our upperclassmen.”
Game Two: LSU 10, Murray State 2
After giving up a run in the first two innings to the Murray State Racers, the LSU Tiger softball team scored nine over the next three innings, including exploding for six runs in the bottom half of the fourth to cruise to the 10-2 victory in five innings to close day two of the Tiger Classic at Tiger Park.
LSU (3-2) pounded out 13 hits on the night to Murray State’s (2-2) two, as A.J. Andrews, Kelsi Kloss Bailey Landry and Allison Falcon each finished the night with two hits each. Andrews went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a stolen base, while Kloss and Falcon combined to go for 4-for-6 with two RBI and four runs scored. Bailey shored up the bottom half of the lineup with two hits and two walks and no strikeouts.
In all, nine different LSU players registered at least one hit in the contest, striking out just two times as a squad. MSU used three pitchers on the night, as CheyAnne Gaskey and Mason Robinson were each lit up for eight runs, all earned with nine hits in 3.1 innings of work combined. Gaskey suffered the loss, tossing 85 total pitches while facing 20 batters.
Kelsee Selman earned the start, but it was Ashley Czechner who earned the win after coming on in relief after 1.2 innings of work and closed out the game by giving up no runs on two hits with two strikeouts on 55 total pitches. Selman allowed both Racer runs on the day with three strikeouts and five walks and no hits.
The Racers struck first and scored both of its runs using zero hits, scoring first in the opening frame on a wild pitch, and then scoring again on a bases loaded walk to go up 2-0 and put the Tigers in a short hole early. Murray State did not register its first hit until the third, getting two in the form of a double and single, but was held fruitless as Landry threw out the lead runner at home to keep MSU off of the board on the play.
“Our coaches are wonderful on preparing us, and we are very confident in any situation with people on base,” Blades said.
The Tiger second inning proved to be crucial as LSU tied the game after a walk to Falcon and Hailey Smith, Landry singled through the infield load the bases full of Tigers with only one out. Andrews delivered a clutch single that scored Falcon, while Blades grounded out but still her work by scoring the second run of the inning to square things up at 2-2.
With two outs already in the third, Kloss doubled to left center to give LSU a little bit of life to work with. A single by Falcon allowed Kloss to cross the plate and give the home side its first lead of the game at 3-2. A Smith single advanced Falcon to second, with a walk to Landry loading the bases, but a strikeout ended the frame with just a one-point LSU advantage.
The LSU fourth began with a frame-opening single from Blades, prompting an immediate pitching change by the Racers. The move did little good as Murray State would change pitchers again later in the inning along with some defensive substitutions that still couldn’t slow down the potent LSU attack. During the inning the Tigers scored six runs on six hits, while getting an MSU error to keep the inning alive. Although they left the bases juiced, the damage had already been done and extended the LSU lead to 9-2.
The team iced the game after Constance Quinn came on to pinch hit with two outs on the board and doubled to left field, eventually being driven in by Landry to end the game in the fifth after going up 10-2.
“We started our season with the No. 10 team in the country and Minnesota who is receiving votes, and not a lot of teams start a season that way,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I’ve liked our performances these past three games, and I love what I saw today from them.”
LSU closes the 2014 Tiger Classic at 1 p.m., taking on the Central Arkansas Bears in the final game of the tournament.
LSU vs. Oklahoma State/Murray State
February 8, 2014
HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On Baylee Corbello’s 13 strikeouts…
“She is doing a great job. She really is. It is nice to have a freshman who is stepping up for us and doing that for us. It is nice to see her succeed. She has worked really hard, and I know that the fans enjoy watching her being that she is from the state of Louisiana and all the accolades she came here with. I think everyone is excited about her performances.”
On tonight’s defense…
“Our defense is very strong. I think that is our biggest strength. I think we are pretty athletic defensively and have some pretty solid kids all around the field. We will rely on that throughout the year.”
On the variety of LSU’s pitching staff this season…
“I think people thought our pitching staff would be the big question, but they are showing some pretty good things. (Ashley) Czechner has had some two really good performances her last two times out. If she is striking people out or getting people out, it doesn’t really matter. The result is the same for the team. She isn’t getting things smoked around the part. People are mishitting things against her. They are hitting things we are capable of fielding. That is the pitcher’s job.”
On LSU’s freshmen performances…
“I like seeing all of the great things our freshmen are doing. I thought they had a good day with Constance Quinn coming up in the end getting a hit. Bailey Landry was awesome. Corbello was good. I thought the freshmen had a great day. Sahvanna Jaquish had a great day. She is swinging really well. I am excited about those guys stepping up, and that takes a lot of the pressure off our upper-classmen. I think as the season settles you will see good things from Bianka (Bell) as well. She is a great player, a fantastic player, and she will come out of it.”
On this season’s record so far…
“We started our season with the No. 10 team in the country and Minnesota who is receiving votes to be in the Top 25. I don’t think a lot of people start their season that way. We played two really quality opponents. Give them some credit. Should we have won or could we have won? Yes probably. We are that good as well. It happens early, but we are fine. I’ve liked our performances these past three games, and I love what I saw today from them. We fought really hard the first game against a really good Big 12 team. Our offense was really solid again tonight.”
1B SANDRA SIMMONS
On her homerun against Oklahoma State…
“We had a really good scouting report on their pitcher. We watched film to watch her hand to tell different location and different pitch coming. I was just trying to get on top of a ball and get a lead for our team. I wanted to help Baylee (Corbello) out. She was pitching very hard on the mound, and she deserved some runs to work with.”
On her defensive stops and saves against Oklahoma State…
“I was just trying to get outs for my team. We only had one run. We didn’t have runs to spare. We couldn’t afford them to advance to third on a pass ball or whatever. I was trying to do all I could for Baylee. She was pitching hard. She deserved to have a good defense. It is something we practice, and it is just instincts to layout for a ball. It just so happened that Allison (Falcon) was there.”
RF JACCEE BLADES
On LSU’s hitting performance against Oklahoma State and Murray State…
“It is so good to put our hits together. I think we feed off of that as well. Last game we had three hits, and this game we had 13. It just shows that when one person gets one and another person gets a hit that I can do that too. We feed off each other, and the atmosphere changes. Our fans are wonderful. I get so excited batting when everyone is cheering us on.”
On LSU’s outfield…
“Our coaches are wonderful on preparing us. We are very confident in any situation with people on base. The ball I had that was 10 miles in the air is just something we practice. It is good that we practice a lot of different situations. We are always ready to play defense.
P BAYLEE CORBELLO
On her first career win against Oklahoma State…
“It was exciting. Our team definitely came around with the bat. It was really nice to have that kind of offense behind me and an amazing defense as well. It gives me all the confidence in the world to pitch to any batter because I know they are behind me.”
On having multiple games with double digits strikeouts…
“I think it is the number of walks I’ve had. I’ve faced more batters. It is the pitching calling I have and the defense behind that helps me out. Also the catcher and her framing ability help as well. They work so hard at practice. I wouldn’t get half the calls if it weren’t for them.”