COLUMBIA, Mo. - Allison Falcon delivered a 2-for-3 performance and matched a career-high three RBIs as the LSU softball team knocked off No. 9 national seed Missouri by a 6-1 margin Saturday during the opening game of the NCAA Columbia Super Regional in-front of 2,253 fans at University Field.
LSU (38-22) won its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament game and moved within one victory of making the program's third appearance at the Women's College World Series. It also marked LSU's first NCAA Super Regional victory since the 2006 season.
LSU's offense racked up six runs and nine hits, the most runs for the Tigers since a 6-1 victory over Nicholls State back on April 4.
Rachele Fico went the distance for LSU in the circle and improved to 19-11 on the season. The junior right-hander sprayed eight hits and surrendered only one run to the high-octane Missouri offense. She recorded five strikeouts versus two walks to garner her third postseason win for the season.
The two teams will meet Sunday at 2:30 p.m. for game two in the best-of-three series. If a deciding game three is necessary, it will be played 30 minutes following game two. Games will be televised by ESPNU and ESPN3.com with Cara Capuano and Garland Cooper serving as the broadcast team.
"I feel like our team was very prepared tonight," head coach Beth Torina said. "We worked really hard this week, a lot of things with our offense. I feel really good about the preparation we did, and I feel really good about the offense. It showed up today. I liked how aggressive our team was. I like our defensive performance and our performance on the mound. I was really happy with how we played today."
LSU grabbed a 2-0 advantage during the third inning. Dylan Supak coaxed a leadoff walk, and pinch runner Jacee Blades advanced to second base on Andrews single up-the-middle. Two batters later, Ashley Langoni drew another free pass to fill the bases. Falcon ripped a timely two-run, two-out single to put LSU on the scoreboard.
Missouri (46-13) cut the LSU advantage down to 2-1 in the fourth inning. Nicole Hudson smacked a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap. She crossed the plate on Kayla Kingsley two-out, RBI infield single in-front of Fico in the pitcher's circle.
LSU responded with three runs during the fifth inning to bust the contest open. Simone Heyward along with Langoni and Juliana Santos set the table with a walk and two singles, respectively, to load the bases.
Falcon and Russell were hit-by-pitch sandwiched between an Ashley Applegate walk to push the LSU advantage to 5-1 and chase Missouri's All-American hurler Chelsea Thomas from the game.
Thomas dropped to 26-8 for the season and was touched up for five runs on five hits. She issued a season's best six walks to go along with seven Ks.
"Thomas is a talented pitcher," Falcon said. "I think what really helped us was we stayed within our plan, really executed well and kind of threw her off a little bit."
Missouri put the first two batters on-base in the sixth inning, but LSU escaped the jam as third baseman Tammy Wray turned a 5-3 double play to keep the score at 5-1.
LSU added an insurance run during the seventh inning. Pinch hitter Cassie Trosclair cranked a leadoff triple and scored on Russell's RBI double off the left field wall to make it 6-1.
Fico worked around a bases loaded situation in the seventh inning and received a fielder's choice play from her middle infield to secure the 6-1 victory.
"We kept a good mix of things," Fico said. "I still expect more from myself. I would have liked to be a little bit sharper, but the great thing about this sport is I have a team behind me. They played great defense, and they got it done for me ."
Every LSU postseason game will have live audio and live stats available inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The games also will be carried live on Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway set to call the action.
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.
NCAA Softball Super Regional Pairings/Results
(1) California leads (16) Washington, 1-0
G1 California won 5-0
G2/3 Sun. 6 p.m.
LSU leads (9) Missouri, 1-0
G1 LSU won 6-1
G2/3 Sun. 2:30 p.m.
USF def. Hofstra, 2-1
G1 Hofstra won 2-1 (11)
G2 USF won 2-1 (9)
G3 USF won 2-1
(4) Oklahoma def. (13) Arizona, 2-0
G1 Oklahoma won 6-0
G2 Oklahoma won 7-1
(3) Arizona St. def. (14) UL-Lafayette, 2-1
G1 UL-Lafayette won 6-0
G2 Arizona St. won 9-2
G3 Arizona St. won 8-0 (6)
(11) Oregon def (6) Texas, 2-1
G1 Texas won 4-2
G2 Oregon won 5-4 (8)
G3 Oregon won 10-6
(7) Tennessee tied with (10) Georgia, 1-1
G1 Tennessee won 3-2
G2 Georgia won 1-0
G3 Sun. 2:30 p.m.
(2) Alabama def. Michigan, 2-0
G1 Alabama won 4-1
G2 Alabama won 4-3
Women's College World Series Pairings
(1) California/(16) Washington vs. LSU/(9) Missouri
(4) Oklahoma vs. USF
(3) Arizona St. vs. (11) Oregon
(2) Alabama vs. (7) Tennessee/(10) Georgia