LSU's Bianka Bell
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Softball Drops Rubber Game to No. 12 Missouri, 3-2
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Published: April 21, 2013, 06:25 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The No. 11 LSU softball team was handed its first SEC series loss on the season after No. 12 Missouri came away with the rubber game by a 3-2 margin Sunday at Tiger Park.

LSU’s offense was led by Bianka Bell’s 2-for-3 effort with a RBI and a run scored. Allison Falcon also secured a RBI, while A.J. Andrews and Simone Heyward picked up hits for the Tigers. In the circle, Rachele Fico was issued the loss and fell to 22-9. She gave up three runs on six hits and recorded five strikeouts against two walks.

Missouri (26-7, 11-6 SEC) received a pair of home runs from Nicole Hudson, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Chelsea Thomas also went the distance in the circle and emerged with 10 strikeouts versus one walk to improve to 17-4 on the season. She surrendered two runs and scattered five hits. 

After Sunday’s action, LSU (37-11, 12-6 SEC) is tied with Alabama for first place in the SEC Western Division standings after the Crimson Tide picked up a 9-8 win over Mississippi State.

“I thought we played really hard today,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I thought we played a much better game facing (Chelsea) Thomas than we did on Friday. I thought she is a special pitcher. She is always going to be tough. The fact that we got two runs off of her was a good job by our offense. I think good pitchers are capable of making huge pitches in big time situations. She was able to step up and get the timely out whereas we weren’t able to get the timely hit.”

LSU charged out to a 1-0 advantage during the first inning. Heyward smacked a one-out single off the glove of the Missouri third baseman. She was erased at second base on a Bell ground ball out. Sandra Simmons worked her way to a walk to set up Falcon, who cranked a 1-1 offering through the left side for the game’s first run.

Missouri fired back with two runs of its own in the third inning. Emily Crane connected for a slow-rolling single down the first base line. Two batters later, Hudson dialed up an opposite field two-run dinger onto the berm in left field to give Missouri a 2-1 edge. 

Missouri pushed its lead to 3-1 during the fifth inning after Hudson struck again with a solo shot that ricocheted off the scoreboard in right field.

“I definitely feel like I threw better today than I did Friday,” Fico said. “I got ahead in counts a lot more. I trusted my pitches, and my defense played really well behind me. It’s just those two pitches that you wish you could take back. When it is all said and done, all you can do is learn from it and move on.”

LSU rallied for a run in the home half of the frame. Andrews cranked a leadoff single to centerfield and stole second base. Two batters later, Bell jumped on the first pitch of the sequence and belted a RBI single to right centerfield to draw LSU back to within 3-2.

Thomas regrouped and sat down the final eight LSU batters she faced to secure the 3-2 win. She tallied five of her 10 Ks during that run and received a diving catch by Corrin Genovese from her shortstop post to get the second out of the seventh inning.

“She (Thomas) made adjustments when we made adjustments,” Bell said. “When we started swinging at the low pitch, she started bringing the ball up in the zone. I guess we couldn’t make that final adjustment with her. She definitely had a good day like she did on Friday. There’s no doubt in my mind that she is good pitcher.”

LSU continues its seven-game homestand as No. 4 Alabama visits Tiger Park for a three-game series. Game times are set for Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.

All three game of the series being broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe will call the action on the network.

Thursday’s contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza serving as the broadcast team whereas Saturday’s game will be carried by Cox Sports Television with Lyn Rollins and retired LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard set to call the action. Friday’s game will have live video available inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.

Every game of LSU softball will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program's social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.

The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open 90 prior to the first pitch. Saturday’s game will serve as the program’s annual Senior Day where Rachele Fico, Katie Guillory and Lauren Houston will be honored postgame. The first 500 fans will receive a LSU foam claw.

LSU Softball Postgame Quotes – April 21, 2013
No. 11 LSU vs. No. 12 Missouri

HEAD COACH BETH TORINA

On today’s game … 
“I thought we played really hard today. I thought we played a much better game facing (Chelsea) Thomas than we did on Friday. If we are going to lose a game like this, I think we will be able to rebound and head into Alabama in a pretty good spot.”

On Missouri’s pitcher Chelsea Thomas’ pitching performance…
“She did a good job. I thought she is a special pitcher. She is always going to be tough. The fact that we got two runs off of her was a good job by our offense today. I think good pitchers are capable of making huge pitches in big time situations. She was able to step up and get the timely out whereas we weren’t able to get the timely hit.”

On LSU’s offensive performance …
“They did a good job and made good adjustments from Friday. I think we definitely missed Jacee Blades in the lineup today. But again overall, we made good adjustments and had a much better offensive plan than we did on Friday.”

On the message to the team going into the Alabama series…
“We are still in the driver’s seat. We can still win the series against Alabama, and I think we are in a good spot in the SEC West. I think we have to rebound from this, really work in practice this week and prepare for Alabama. We still control our own destiny from this point.”

SS BIANKA BELL

On today’s game … 
“It was a tough loss, but it will make us better next week against Alabama. We aren’t going to dwell on this. We are going to come out this week, practice hard and hopefully it will do us well for next weekend.”

On Missouri’s pitcher Chelsea Thomas’ pitching performance…
“She made adjustments when we made adjustments. When we started swinging at the low pitch, she started bringing the ball up in the zone. I guess we couldn’t make that final adjustment with her. She definitely had a good day like she did on Friday. There’s no doubt in my mind that she is good pitcher. We definitely have to look forward to that when we face Alabama’s pitchers.”

On the difference between her offensive performance on Friday and Sunday …
“Friday, I think I was in my head a little too much. I just thought to relax today. I just had a better day today than I did Friday. Hopefully, it will carry over to next weekend.”

P RACHELE FICO

On today’s game … 
“The team fought hard until the end. There was a really good atmosphere in the stadium. The fans were into it, and our team was into it. Their girls were cheering loud. It just didn’t go our way today. It was a close game, and they were able to get away with the ‘W’.”

On Nicole Hudson’s two homeruns…
“She is a great player. She was really on today. You can’t take anything away from her. She got the job done. It is always hard to swallow when the same player beats you twice. I think her second at-bat, she hit a good pitch. I don’t think I miss my spot on that. The first one, I left the pitch up a little bit too much. Credit to her, she took advantage of it. When someone is good like that, you can’t take anything away from her. She is a great player and was on today.”

On her pitching performance …
“I definitely feel like I threw better today than I did Friday. I got ahead in counts a lot more. I trusted my pitches, and my defense played really well behind me. It’s just those two pitches that you wish you could take back. When it is all said and done, all you can do is learn from it and move on.”

On next weekend’s Alabama series…
“The game today didn’t really put us in a bad spot. We can still have the season we want to have. We can still accomplish what we want to. We need to continue working hard, refocus this week in practice and get ready for Alabama.”

 

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