PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – After falling in a 1-0 hole with just two players reaching base through the first four innings, the No. 23 LSU softball team broke out with an eight run fifth inning getting a two-RBI triple from A.J. Andrews, two-RBI double from Bianka Bell with a highlight three-run home run from catcher Sahvanna Jaquish to go ahead for good and defeat the Cal State Fullerton Titans 8-1 to earn a spilt at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Friday.
With no runs and just one hit to their credit going into their half of the fifth inning, the Tigers (11-5) kicked things in to high gear in a big way quickly, accumulating 10 hits in the next two innings to finish with 11 total on the night between two different Titan (10-4) pitchers on the evening. The difference in the game was the timely hitting of LSU, as the Tigers stranded only four runners on base to Cal State Fullerton’s 14.
“I think we played well in both games honestly,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We did a nice job all day of really fighting through some things and we were able to bounce back in game two and answer back from that first game.”
Eight LSU batters registered at least a hit on the night, led by Jaquish who went 2-for-3 with three RBI on her second home run of the season. Andrews went 2-for-4 and legged out her first triple with two RBI, as Allison Falcon earned her fourth of the season, while Bell clocked her fourth double of the season against the Titans with two RBI.
“The hitters did a good job of making adjustments,” Torina said. “We got the big hit from A.J. Andrews and things just kind of took off from there.”
Baylee Corbello went the distance for the seventh time this season, moving to 5-2 on the year after allowing just one run on six hits with three strikeouts. CSF’s Christin Washington allowed five runs, four earned, with two walks and five strikeouts as she silenced the Tiger bats early. Washington came out for a brief spell before coming back in to the contest, as her relief gave up three runs on just two hits in the big inning for LSU.
Jaquish earned a two-out single over the glove of the Cal State Fullerton second baseman in the second inning to reach first base for the first LSU hit of the night. But the catcher remained there as a grounder to third ended the inning.
Corbello and the group worked out of a jam, as a leadoff walk was followed by two pop ups to put two outs on the board. After another walk to put two on, Tammy Wray fielded a grounder and tagged third to end the inning.
Bell was the second Tiger to reach base in the game, earning a walk with two outs in the fourth, but the LSU shortstop would stay there as a grounder to third ended the inning.
Cal State Fullerton broke the scoreless drought in the fifth, as the Titans got a single up the middle, with a sacrifice bunt moving the runner over. A walk and another single loaded the bases for CSF. An infield single plated the run, but the Tigers stood firm as Corbello handled a liner back to her and got the last batter to strike out to end the inning.
Jaquish led off the fifth with an out, and that would be the first of only two for a while as the Tigers came back to her in the inning and she made up for it launching one over the fence in left center for a three-run home run, capping an eight run, eight hit inning for the Tigers to bolt ahead of the Titans. The scoring started for LSU with a two-RBI triple by Andrews to score Corbello and Falcon who each got on with a single to make it 2-1 to give LSU its first lead.
Another hit by Blades scored Andrews to make it 3-1, as Simmons singled to put two on with the two advancing to second and third on an error by the Titan first baseman, to put two back in scoring position. A pitching change by Cal State Fullerton did little as Bell cranked a double to right center, scoring both to make it 5-1 Tigers.
Another Titan pitching change led to a walk to Kellsi Kloss to put two back on, which led to trouble right after as the catcher Jaquish made the Titans pay with the home run to go up seven and never relinquish the lead.
“I think there were a lot of things against us today, and we had some adversity with the time change and the time of the games but it was nice that the team didn’t make any excuses and they really fought hard and played hard and did some really impressive things,” Torina said.
Game One: Oregon 4, LSU 1
Trailing the entire game, the LSU softball team never quit and had multiple chances to put No. 6 Oregon on the ropes, but the Tigers were only able to manage one run on six hits, powered by Bianka Bell’s fifth home run of the season to fall to the Ducks 4-1 in the first game for the team at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Friday.
LSU (10-5) stranded nine runners over the course of the contest, including having a bases-loaded situation in the final inning to possibly tie or end the game with one swing of the bat.
Jacee Blades led LSU, earning four of the Tigers’ six hits on the night in four at-bats, while Bell had the only RBI and run for the team with her solo shot. Bailey Landry was the only other player to earn a hit on the evening for LSU.
Ashley Czechner took the loss, falling to 5-3 on the season after giving up all four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and six walks in seven innings. Her counterpart in Oregon’s Cheridan Hawkins earned the complete game victory after allowing just one run with 12 strikeouts to just three walks.
“We faced a really talented pitcher today, and Czechner made that one mistake early but was able to hold a really solid offense in check for much of the rest of the game,” head coach Beth Torina said. “The key to pitching is you find a way to get it done no matter what stuff you have that day.”
After Oregon got a two-run home run from Janelle Lindvall in the top of the first to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead, LSU came back in the bottom half of the inning and led off with a walk to A.J Andrews to put one on. Blades legged out a bunt single to give the Tigers two on base, but LSU wouldn’t be able to get anything to cross as the next three went down in order to end the frame.
Blades earned her second hit of the game and second hit for the Tigers as a group with a single back to the pitcher to reach first, advancing to second on a wild pitch to get into scoring position with two outs on the board. The left fielder reaching base snapped a streak of eight consecutive LSU batters retired, but she was left stranded on second to end the inning.
After struggling at the plate, LSU got the spark it needed from Bell who took a 1-1 pitch left over the plate over the fence in center to cut the deficit to one to open the bottom of the fourth.
In the fifth, LSU worked out of a big jam that began with bunt single by Oregon. Czechner got a strikeout and a successful pick off attempted at first cleared the bases. A single up the middle put a runner back on, as a walk put two on with two outs. Fortunately, Tammy Wray made a diving catch to stop a grounder from poking through the left side and threw the runner out at first to end the inning.
LSU put together its best chance to put the Ducks on the ropes in the sixth, as Landry singled with a bunt with one out to reach first. After a sacrifice bunt by Andrews to advance Landry to second, Blades connected again for an infield single to put runners at the corners. Unfortunately, a fly ball to center ended the inning with the tying run 90 feet from the plate.
In the sixth with two outs, Sahvanna Jaquish reached first after an error at second base. Alex Boulet came on to pinch run for Jaquish, and stole second base to get into scoring position. However, a fly out to right field ended the inning.
Oregon came back in the top of the seventh and scored two runs on one hit to go up 4-1, but LSU didn’t give up, as with two outs Andrews reached with a walk. On the very next play, Blades dove to first on a single, allowing Andrews to take second then third on the throw, with Blades moving to second. Simmons got on with a walk to load the bases, but a strikeout looking ended the game giving Oregon the win.