No. 16 Softball Turns Back Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Rachele Fico fired 8.1 innings of one-run ball en route to a save and a win to propel the No. 16 LSU softball team to 9-3 and 3-1 victories over Kentucky Sunday at the UK Softball Complex.
With the sweep, the Tigers (38-10, 17-5 SEC) vaulted into sole possession of third place in the overall SEC standings but remain one game behind of Alabama in the league's western division race.
"All in all, it was a great weekend for the Tigers," head coach Yvette Girouard said. "We had fabulous production from a bunch of players and played excellent defense. Lineup wise, we went back to what worked for us for 80-percent of the season. I loved the way our players approached the weekend against a very talented Kentucky team."
LSU fired out to a 2-0 advantage as Mitchell connected for a two-run home run over the left field wall. The historic long ball was the 32nd of her career and tied her with former three-time All-American Leslie Klein for the program's lead.
"Rachel has taken to heart that this is her senior season," Girouard said. "She wants to go out on a positive note and her mental approach has been razor sharp."
The Tigers took advantage of a Juliana Santos leadoff single to open the fourth inning. Two batters later, Mouse ripped a RBI-double down the left field line to cap a nine-pitch at-bat and push the lead to 3-0.
LSU tacked on an unearned run during the fifth inning before the Tigers pieced together six consecutive hits for a quartet of runs to start the sixth inning. Ashley Applegate, Mitchell, Ashley Langoni and Anissa Young knocked RBI-hits to make it 8-0.
Megan Yocke cranked a solo home run to put Kentucky (29-21, 11-14 SEC) on the board in the home half of the frame and break up Brittany Mack's bid for a shutout. The Wildcats used a trio of infield hits along with two walks to trim the deficit to 8-3.
With the bases loaded, Girouard turned to Fico out of the bullpen. She promptly fired three straight strikes to mow down Natalie Smith looking. The Connecticut native tossed a scoreless seventh inning to notch her fifth save of the season and established a new program single-season mark.
Mack moved to 9-3 and tallied six strikeouts against two walk in 5.1 innings of work.
"Brittany threw a great game, but just wasn't able to finish it," Girouard said. "Her movement and command over her pitches were phenomenal for five innings. This performance is something that she can build on going forward."
Young belted a solo shot in the second inning, while Santos tacked on a two-run bomb during the fourth inning to provide LSU's offense in the second game. Mouse also compiled a 3-for-3 effort to match a career-high. She reached base during her final eight plate appearances.
Kentucky received a homer from Destinee Mordecai for its lone offensive highlight as LSU completed the sweep with a 3-1 triumph.
"We know Juliana can hit at this level because she proved it last season," Girouard said. "She's had to battle a lot of injuries this season, but credit her because she shows a lot of fortitude to compete hard every day."
Fico limited the Wildcats to one run on four hits. She recorded five strikeouts against two walks to improve to 16-4 on the season.
LSU finishes its regular season home slate with a three-game series against No. 12 Georgia. The two teams will play a single-game Thursday at 7 p.m. followed by a 4 p.m. Friday twin bill. Games one and three of the series will be televised by ESPN and ESPNU, respectively.
All three games of the series also will be broadcasted live on ESPN 104.5 and The X 104.9 in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe set to call the action. Live stats are available in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net along with in-game updates via http://twitter.com/lsu_softball.
"Our games with Georgia are always battles and we're excited to showcase our beautiful facility on the national stage," Girouard said.