BATON ROUGE - The No. 23 LSU softball team was unable to connect back-to-back wins to open its five-game homestand as No. 22 Florida State emerged with an 8-1 victory Wednesday at Tiger Park.
The Tigers (30-14) and Seminoles (39-10) met on the softball diamond for the first time since LSU's 2-1 victory in an elimination game at the 2004 Women's College World Series.
LSU scored its lone run of the contest during the seventh inning. Tammy Wray knocked a one-out single to right field before giving way to pinch runner Alex Boulet, who provided a spark off the bench with a steal of second base. She alertly scooted to third base following the stolen base after the Florida State defense was caught out of position on the play.
Two batters later, Ashleigh Kuhn cranked a RBI single to plate Boulet for the final margin of 8-1. Jacee Blades notched a 2-for-3 performance to claim her third multi-hit effort of the season, while Ashley Langoni drew her 38th walk of the season to match former All-American Ashlee Ducote's single season record set in 2000.
"I really don't have an answer for them," head coach Beth Torina said. "Honestly, they looked very unprepared tonight, and that's my fault. "We haven't played back-to-back mid-week games this year. We usually have a day to prepare for our opponents, and we didn't have time to prepare for either of them [McNeese State or Florida State] coming back from Tennessee on Monday. That's really the only thing that I can attribute this type of performance to."
Florida State dented the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the first and third innings to build a 4-0 advantage. Kirstin Austin and Courtney Senas provided the key hits and laced two-run singles to centerfield and left centerfield, respectively.
The Seminoles tacked on a Celeste Gomez solo home run with one out during the fourth inning to push their lead to 5-0 and chase LSU starter Brittany Mack from the game. Mack was dealt her fourth straight setback by a Top 25 opponent and fell to 12-8 for the season.
"Tennessee, Alabama and Florida State - I've got to give credit to them," Mack said. "They've got some good hitters. I could try and place the ball a little better, but they've got some really good hitters. I just had a bad day today."
Rachele Fico fired 3.2 frames of two-hit relief and notched three strikeouts. The three Ks allowed Fico to pass Cody Trahan (2007-10) for sole possession of sixth place on LSU's all-time list.
Florida State added three unearned runs in the seventh inning aided by a Wray fielding error and a Morgan Russell passed ball to make it 8-0. Monica Perry went the distance for the Seminoles in the circle to move to 18-5 on the season. She gave up one run on five hits and recorded four strikeouts versus two walks.
"I didn't think that Brittany was the reason we lost tonight," Torina said. "I think that we didn't play very well as a team. I thought that this was the worst game that we've played the entire season on all sides of the ball. I thought we played defense very poorly, I thought we pitched poorly, I thought we swung the bat poorly."
LSU plays host to Ole Miss for a SEC weekend series to continue a stretch of seven games during an eight-day span. Game times are set for 6 p.m. [Friday and Saturday] followed by 1 p.m. [Sunday].
Live audio and live stats for all three games of the series will be available inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live and fans can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.
Cox Sports Television will televise the first two games of the series with Lyn Rollins and Yvette Girouard serving as the announcing team.
The Tiger Park Ticket Booth will open 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Tickets also are available online at www.LSUtix.net.
As part of Brittany Mack's "Geaux Play" initiative, LSU softball is encouraging fans to share the gift of sports with special needs children. Fans can donate new or gently used sports equipment during the remaining LSU softball home games at Tiger Park. For more information, visit www.LSUsports.net/geauxplay.
All items collected will be given directly to the Miracle League Association and six local schools that Mack will visit during the season. At LSU's series finale versus Ole Miss on April 22, Mack will invite all the children to the game as her special VIP guests for "Geaux Play" day at Tiger Park.
The LSU Athletics Ticket Office continues to urge season ticket holders to be cautious when separating their bar-coded tickets. The barcode must be attached to the ticket when arriving at the gate for scanning purposes upon entrance to Tiger Park. If the barcode detaches, season ticket holders must stop by the LSU Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Administration Building for a reprint of their tickets.
Softball Postgame Quotes
No. 22 Florida State vs. No. 23 LSU - April, 18, 2012
Head Coach Beth Torina
On the team's recent losses...
"I really don't have an answer for them. Honestly, they looked very unprepared tonight, and that's my fault. We haven't had a practice to work on some things in a while. So I'll take blame for them being unprepared."
On whether the fact that this was a mid-week game had any affect on the team...
"We haven't played back-to-back mid-week games this year. We usually have a day to prepare for our opponents, and we didn't have time to prepare for either of them coming back from Tennessee on Monday. That's really the only thing that I can attribute this type of performance to."
On Brittany Mack's performance tonight...
"I didn't think that she was the reason we lost tonight. I think that we didn't play very well as a team. I thought that this was the worst game that we've played the entire season on all sides of the ball. I thought we played defense very poorly, I thought we pitched poorly, I thought we swung the bat poorly. I don't think you can put this loss on one player. If you're going to put it on someone, put it on me."
On the upcoming series with Ole Miss and the need to get some confidence back...
"It's a big weekend. We have tomorrow to practice, and I'm excited about that. We'll get them out here, get them going and do some things to help us prepare. That way we can feel good, and try and get back on the right foot."
Pitcher Brittany Mack
On her performance...
"I could have pitched a lot better today. It was not good, it was definitely just a bad day."
On her last couple of outings...
"Tennessee, Alabama and Florida State - I've got to give credit to them. They've got some good hitters. I could try and place the ball a little better, but they've got some really good hitters. I just had a bad day today."
On what needs to change to get back on the right track...
"I just have to make sure that I start off stronger so that I can give my hitters a positive first at-bat."