COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Lacey Kohl connected for a three-run home run with one out in the 11th inning to spoil a masterful pitching performance from Rachele Fico as Syracuse handed the No. 20 LSU softball team a 3-0 setback to open NCAA Regional action Friday at the Aggie Softball Complex on the Texas A&M campus.
Fico racked up a career-high 18 strikeouts against two walks, but dropped to 14-10 with the tough-luck loss. The 18 Ks was the second-highest single-game effort in program history only behind former three-time All-American Britni Sneed's 19-strikeout performance against Oklahoma at the 2001 NCAA Women's College World Series.
Syracuse (45-11) extended its program-record winning streak to 15 games behind Jenna Caira's 13 strikeouts. The BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and Tournament MVP surrendered five hits and one walk to improve to 35-9 on the season.
The Tigers (38-17) will face Sacred Heart (29-20), a 10-2 loser to No. 16 national seed Texas A&M, Saturday at 4 p.m. in an elimination game. It marked the first time in 13 games that LSU has lost its NCAA Regional opener.
"A lot of things didn't happen right for us, but we have to go on from here," head coach Yvette Girouard said. "Fico threw a great game, and I thought she was as good as she's been all year. Bottom line is, we're just not a very good offensive team and it reared its head once again today. It's going to be a tough road for us to climb, but that's all you can do it now is take it pitch-by-pitch."
LSU had its best scoring opportunities during the fifth and eight innings. Langoni opened the fifth and hustled out an infield single. Pinch runner Alex Boulet used some nifty base running and slide underneath the tag on a Tammy Wray ground ball to put runners on first and second base.
With two outs and a runner on third base in the eighth inning, Shaw nearly legged out an infield single for the game winner. However, second baseman Stephanie Watts dove and stuck her glove on the first base bag to beat Shaw by a half-step.
The Orange put pressure on LSU in the ninth inning after Lisaira Daniels ripped a single to left field and scooted around to third base after a Langoni fielding error. Fico dug deep to get back-to-back Ks of Kohl and Hallie Gibbs to escape the jam.
In front of Kohl's three run dinger in the 11th, Syracuse received a leadoff single from Veronica Grant followed by an intentional walk to Daniels two batters later. Kohl, who was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, took the first pitch of the sequence out of the park to straight-away centerfield.
"We worked her [Kohl] outside the whole game," Fico said. "She made an adjustment, and she got a great piece of it. We need to put this behind us and come out strong tomorrow. A lot of people on this team, including myself, have things we need to work on. We need to stay mentally strong, and we need to band together. We need to bring our faith together right now and play Tiger softball."
All of LSU's postseason games will have live video, live audio and live stats in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The contests also will be carried on ESPN 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe calling the action.