BATON ROUGE - The No. 10 LSU softball team rode Meghan Patterson's right-arm to a masterful four-hit shutout fueled by eight strikeouts as the Tigers completed a perfect weekend with a 1-0 victory over Nicholls State Sunday at Tiger Park.
LSU (10-1) has won 10 of its first 11 games, the program's best start since opening the 2007 campaign with an 11-0 mark.
Patterson stranded a baserunner during every frame, three in scoring position, en route to her second shutout of the season. In the process, the junior right-hander improved to 3-1 on the season.
"Luckily, we got a great pitching performance out of Meghan Patterson today," head coach Beth Torina said. "She was so solid for us. I think her coming out and getting the final win of the tournament for us is fitting. She deserves it. She's earned it, and I was happy to see her do that. Of course, we want to see more out of our offense today, but we will take our five wins and call it a good weekend."
The Tigers used some two-out lighting during the first inning to score the game's lone run. Allison Falcon ripped her team-leading fifth double of the season. After a Bianka Bell walk, Tammy Wray connected for a RBI single to left field to plate Falcon.
LSU continued its trend of scoring early and has scored in the first inning on seven occasions this season. The Tigers have outscored their opponents by a 19-0 margin this season.
"There is a little bit more stress on you when you get to the plate with two outs and runners in scoring position," Wray said. "It is a mental thing. You have to calm yourself down. I knew that all I had to do is hit something fair and hope that (Allison) Falcon is fast enough to score the run. I pulled the pitch, it fell in and it all worked out."
Nicholls State (4-5) had its best opportunity to score during the fourth inning after a Leah Andrus leadoff double. Patterson bucked down with a groundout followed by consecutive strikeouts to escape the threat and keep the score 1-0 in favor of LSU.
"There is definitely some pressure," Patterson said. "One run isn't always enough. You just have to rely on your defense. As a pitcher, you just have to keep your team in the game. I had a good mix of pitches. I had the high and low stuff today. They got a couple hits today, but our defense was solid."
The Colonels put another runner into scoring position in the fifth inning, but Patterson shut the door again with a strikeout.
Nicholls' Ashton Bennett was dealt the hard-luck loss and fell to 3-2 on the season. She scattered one run on five hits and recorded one strikeout versus one walk.
"This pitcher was really different from anyone we saw this weekend," Torina said. "She did a nice job. She has to get some of the credit. At the same time, we have to go back to the drawing board and work a little bit harder too."
LSU embarks on a 13-game road swing starting next weekend with the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic held in Palm Springs, Calif where the Tigers will take on No. 16 Arizona, BYU, Ohio State, No. 19 UCLA and UNLV.
Every LSU softball game will have live stats available inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsusoftball on Twitter.
LSU's next home game will be Wednesday, March 13 versus Nicholls State with a 6 p.m. first pitch. Tickets can be purchased online at www.LSUtix.net or on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Season tickets also are on-sale for $75 and additional ticket information is available at www.LSUtix.net.
Bianka Bell, LSU
Ashton Bennett, Nicholls State
Rachele Fico, LSU
Lauren Houston, LSU
Whitney Johnson, North Dakota State
Melanie Mitchell, Virginia
Morgan Mosby, Memphis
Alyssa Reina, North Dakota State
Meghan Patterson, LSU
LSU Softball Postgame Quotes - February 17, 2013
No. 10 LSU vs. Nicholls State
HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On scoring early and relying on the team's strong pitching...
"Luckily, we got a great pitching performance out of Meghan Patterson today. She was so solid for us. I think her coming out and getting the final win of the tournament for us is fitting. She deserves it. She's earned it, and I was happy to see her do that. Of course, we want to see more out of our offense today, but we will take our five wins and call it a good weekend."
On the offense going forward...
"I think all of them expect more of themselves without question. I think it is pretty clear that we expect more from them too. They will go back to work and make some changes. This pitcher was really different from anyone we saw this weekend. She did a nice job. She has to get some of the credit. At the same time, we have to go back to the drawing board and work a little bit harder too."
On Nicholls' Ashton Bennett and her pitching performance...
"She through a lot of drop balls. She was down in the zone more than we saw all weekend. Everything else we saw this weekend was high in the zone. We were a little bit unprepared for that because we focused so much on the upper half of the zone. That is what we were going to see majority of the weekend. We will get them prepared next time. As soon as we get done with these tournaments, we get on a single game focus. We can be more specifically prepared."
On the two-out hitting in the first inning ...
"They did a good job of putting it together. These kids have shown that they will fight. They will fight at any point of the game. We showed that last night (against Memphis) when we down and were able to come together with two outs. They definitely have heart and fight. They can do it at any time. They are talented and capable of putting things together at any moment.
On next weekend's tournament in Palm Springs ...
"We definitely have to figure out how to make adjustments a little bit better and make the change from up in the zone to down in the zone. We have to be able to make some better adjustments during games. We are ready to put in the work this week to be prepared for those quality opponents.
P MEGHAN PATTERSON
On today's win over Nicholls State ...
"There is definitely some pressure. One run isn't always enough. You just have to rely on your defense. As a pitcher, you just have to keep your team in the game."
On what was working for her in the circle ...
"I had a good mix of pitches. I had the high and low stuff today. They got a couple hits today, but our defense was solid."
On preparing for next weekend's tournament in California...
"Definitely, pitching wise we have to focus on keeping the ball in the park. These are really big teams with really big hitters. The defense is doing a really great job right now. They just need to continue being solid. Hitters will have to be more solid as well."
3B TAMMY WRAY
On her RBI single in the first inning ...
"We just have so much confidence in each other. We know the lineup that Coach (Torina) puts out, regardless of who is in it, everybody in there is going to do their job. Batting behind Allison (Falcon) and Bianka (Bell), that is just a strong one-two punch right there. I am so confident that they are going to get on. It makes it easier for me to do my job and score them. That hit just fell in today."
On having a team-leading nine RBIs this season...
"I have been working hard. I worked hard in the off season and in the fall. The free time I get now I try to come in 20 or 30 minutes everyday before practice or between classes to get some extra swings in. It just has been paying off. I struggled last year, and I knew that I had to make some kind of adjustment going into this year. I am taking in what everyone is saying, and I am seeing the ball so much better so that is helping a lot as well."
On the team's offense as a whole...
"This year, everyone just has so much power. I don't know how many homeruns we have right now, but probably close to the number we had all last season. There are so many people hitting it over like Katie Guillory with her first career home run (earlier this weekend). We know that everyone has the potential to do it."
On producing in two-out situations...
"There is a little bit more stress on you when you get to the plate with two outs and runners in scoring position. It is a mental thing. You have to calm yourself down. I knew that all I had to do is hit something fair and hope that (Allison) Falcon is fast enough to score the run. I pulled the pitch, it fell in and it all worked out."
On preparing for next weekend...
"We are looking forward to it. It was still competition this week and the past week. We have to work hard and face each game one at a time. We just have to do what we've been doing. We have to be confident in each other and ourselves. We have to do the small things, like lay down bunts, make plays and eliminate errors. We are going to rely on all aspects of the game to get us through next weekend. We have all the potential to do it."