LSU's Tammy Wray
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Wray Homers Fuel Softball Past South Carolina, 6-0
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Published: March 23, 2013, 06:08 PM (CT)
Updated: March 23, 2013, 07:43 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – Tammy Wray belted a pair of two-run home runs for a career-best four RBIs, while Ashley Czechner fired another one-hit shutout as the No. 13 LSU softball team picked up a 6-0 victory over South Carolina Saturday in-front of a season’s best 1,705 fans at Tiger Park.

The Tigers (27-5, 7-1 SEC) pushed their winning streak to nine games and have picked up victories in 13 of their last 15 outings since March 1. LSU also has strung together 15 consecutive wins over the Gamecocks (17-11, 0-5 SEC) going back to the 2008 season.

The win enabled LSU to remain in sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division race. The Tigers have a two-game edge over Alabama and Texas A&M. However, the Aggies play game two of their three-game set at Tennessee later tonight.

Czechner came away with her first career seven-inning shutout with the Tigers and improved to 7-0 to stay unblemished on the season. The lone hit for South Carolina came on a Dana Hathorn infield single with one out in the fourth inning. 

“Ashley did a really good job,” head coach Beth Torina said. “She threw a lot of strikes today and was able to spin it really well. I thought she kept them off balanced for the entire game. It was a really good performance from her. I thought it was probably her best. You know, I say that every time she takes the mound that it has been her best performance. I think that just shows how much she continues to grow every time she takes the field.”

Czechner, a South Carolina native, collected five strikeouts against one walk on an economical 82 pitches. She pounded the zone early and often by registering 17-of-24 in the first pitch strikes department. 

“At the beginning of the year, I was just trying to feel everything out,” Czechner said. “Now I’m getting a lot more comfortable in the circle and a lot more comfortable with my teammates. I’m pitching against some of the best competition in the SEC. Coach Torina has worked really, really hard with me. We’ve been working on each pitch, doing certain drills and really just fine tuning the little things.”

LSU dented the scoreboard for the first time with a two-spot during the fourth inning. Sandra Simmons smacked a one-out single through the right side. After an 11-pitch at-bat her first time up, Wray jumped on the first pitch of her second plate appearance. She cranked a two-run dinger just inside the left field foul pole and onto the berm to make it 2-0.

“My first at-bat, I told Coach (Howard) Dobson that I was going to look out,” Wray said. “I’ve been struggling with the inside pitch. Unfortunately I popped up to the third baseman, but I was able to see a lot of pitches. Going into my next at-bat, I was confident that I saw enough pitches. I knew where she liked to throw. I told myself that I was going to look in because that was all she was throwing me. Fortunately on the first pitch, I was able to make contact and keep it fair.”

The Tigers added four more runs in the fifth inning. Jacee Blades, who matched a career-high with three hits for her team-leading 10th multi-hit effort of the season, chopped a leadoff infield single. Bianka Bell ripped a 3-1 offering over the right centerfield fence to claim her sixth homer of the season and extend the LSU lead to 4-0.

Four batters later, Wray struck again with another two-run roundtripper. This time she went to straight-away centerfield for the final margin of 6-0. The last LSU player to connect for two home runs during a SEC game was Rachel Mitchell versus Arkansas on April 27, 2008 at the original Tiger Park.     

“Tammy did such a good job of understanding the hitting plan today,” Torina said. “She was able to do multiple things and show some versatility. The more confident she gets, I think the better she’s going to be. She’s just going to go off the charts with her ability, and the power that she’s capable of having.”

The final game of the three-game set is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge. The broadcast also can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

“I think we need to do what we’ve been doing exactly,” Torina said. “I think we need to get a solid pitching performance, swing the bats aggressively like we have been and try to pick up the last game. We’re out to win this league, and every game matters. Every game is important. So, we won’t treat it any differently than we have the first two games.”

Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live stats at www.LSUsports.net/livestats along with live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsusoftball on Twitter.

The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open 90 prior to the first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12.

LSU Softball Postgame Quotes – March 23, 2013
No. 13 LSU vs. South Carolina

HEAD COACH BETH TORINA

On Ashley Czechner’s performance in the circle today …
“She did a really good job. She threw a lot of strikes today and was able to spin it really well. I thought she kept them off balanced for the entire game. It was a really good performance from her. I thought it was probably her best. You know, I say that every time she takes the mound that it has been her best performance. I think that just shows how much she continues to grow every time she takes the field. She’s just keeps getting better and better every time.”

On Tammy Wray becoming more confident at the plate …
“She did such a good job of understanding the hitting plan today. The first pitch was an inside pitch. The second one, I think was an outside pitch. She was able to do multiple things and show some versatility. The more confident she gets, I think the better she’s going to be. She’s just going to go off the charts with her ability, and the power that she’s capable of having.”

On hitting being contagious …
“It definitely does. Hitting is contagious. I say that all the time. So, it takes one person to step up and be the one to start it. Then, they all feed off of that.”

On the keys to getting the sweep against South Carolina tomorrow …
“I think we need to do what we’ve been doing exactly. I think we need to get a solid pitching performance, swing the bats aggressively like we have been and try to pick up the last game. We’re out to win this league, and every game matters. Every game is important. So, we won’t treat it any differently than we have the first two games.”

PITCHER ASHLEY CZECHNER

On today’s pitching performance and what it means picking up another SEC win …
“Well, winning all these games is just very important especially down the road when we get closer towards the postseason. Winning the SEC West is really crucial for us. Today was an overall pretty good day. All my pitches seemed to be working pretty well. They got a lot of pop ups, a couple of ground balls here and there. I was just doing my best to keep them off balanced.”

On her progression throughout the year …
“At the beginning of the year, I was just trying to feel everything out. Now I’m getting a lot more comfortable in the circle and a lot more comfortable with my teammates. I’m pitching against some of the best competition in the SEC. Coach Torina has worked really, really hard with me. We’ve been working on each pitch, doing certain drills and really just fine tuning the little things.”

On beating her home state school in South Carolina …
“I really did want to beat them because of the possibly that I could have played there and knowing a couple of the girls. I really did want to get this win, not only for personal reasons, but for the team and conference reasons.”

On the team’s hot streak and looking forward to tomorrow’s game …
“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re getting hits from so many different people. Tammy (Wray) had two home runs today, Rikki (Alcaraz) had a home run yesterday. We just need to keep having someone continue to step up. We’re getting great pitching from (Rachele) Fico. Maybe we’ll see Meghan (Patterson) tomorrow. We just need to keep playing LSU softball.”

3B TAMMY WRAY

On her approach at the plate and her two homeruns…
“My first at-bat, I told Coach (Howard) Dobson that I was going to look out. I’ve been struggling with the inside pitch. The pitcher kept throwing me in though, and I was getting jammed. Unfortunately I popped up to the third baseman, but I was able to see a lot of pitches. Going into my next at-bat, I was confident that I saw enough pitches. I knew where she liked to throw. I told myself that I was going to look in because that was all she was throwing me. Fortunately on the first pitch, I was able to make contact and keep it fair.”

On making adjustments through the second time in the line up…
“We watch film on all the pitchers, and we have these charts that let us know where the pitchers like to throw. We come up with a plan together. If the plan doesn’t work the first time, we don’t get defeated because we can always make adjustments. We have confidence in each other that no matter how many outs we have, or how many runners are on that someone is going to get the job done. We don’t feel so much pressure individually to score runs because we know the person behind us will pick us up if we fail.”

On the friendly competition between her and Bianka Bell in home runs…
“After I hit my first one and she hit her first one, I was joking around with her. I told her you couldn’t just give me that moment of fame. She hit two the other day too. So we were joking around with each other. It is nothing but fun and games. She is awesome.”

On the opportunity to gain the sweep against South Carolina…
“The most important thing is to not be content. It is important for us to keep the momentum going and into our first at-bats if we can. We can’t let it get to our heads that we have taken the first two games of the series.”

 

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