BATON ROUGE, La. – Coming off of a tough loss in the team’s opening game on day one of the Purple and Gold Challenge, the No. 22 LSU softball team got the first no-hitter of the season from freshman Kelsee Selman, a three-run home run from Sahvanna Jaquish and three-hit nights from Bianka Bell and A.J. Andrews to defeat the Jackson State Tigers 8-0 in six innings Friday night to earn a split of the day’s competition at Tiger Park.
Selman, whose last start came in the Tiger Invitational against George Washington on Feb. 15, threw the fourth, six-inning no hitter in program history as she struck out nine and walked just one while using just 76 pitches to do so. She’s the first Tiger hurler to toss a no-hitter since Rachele Fico did against Ohio State last season, while becoming the first since Britni Sneed in 2001 to do it in less than seven innings.
“The past two times out there haven’t been my best for sure,” Selman said. “Since then, I have been perfecting my pitches and making sure they are strikes. I needed more confidence in myself. While I was out there, I trusted myself and the hard work I have put in.”
After allowing a walk to the third batter of the game in the very first inning, the Lufkin, Texas, product retired the next 16 in order to close the door for good.
“She did a great job and did exactly what this team needed her to do,” head softball coach Beth Torina said. “She got the bounce back win and shut the door. She did exactly what we needed her to do and what was expected of her.”
While Selman (2-0) kept the JSU hitters at bay for the length of the game, the LSU offense came to life to aid the pitcher and pounded out all eight runs on 12 hits as seven different Tiger batters earned at least one on the night. Bell and Andrews led the way with Bell going a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles and three runs scored, while Andrews went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
“We were flat the first game,” Bell said “We told each other to get on the fence and cheer on your teammates no matter how many outs we had. It doesn’t matter how we are doing. Stay in the game and stay motivated to get through the day.”
Kellsi Kloss scored the game-clinching run in the bottom of the sixth and finished 2-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored, while earning two walks. Jaquish crushed her third home run of the season in the third inning, putting the Tigers up six for her only hit of the night while scoring once and walking twice.
Andrews led off the LSU first with a single to second base to begin the Tiger scoring drive. After stealing second and advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, a grounder gave LSU its first out of the inning. Bell got popped to put runners at the corners, as Kloss connected on an infield single to score Andrews easily and make it 1-0 LSU. With Bell already at second and moving to third after the hit, the shortstop eventually came in on an errant throw by the catcher trying to get Kloss out at second on the steal to make it 2-0.
Andrews struck again for her second hit of the night in the very next inning as she earned a two-out base hit through the middle of the infield. After moving again with her second swiped bag of the night, Blades brought her in with a base knock through the left side easily scoring the centerfielder to give LSU a 3-0 advantage.
The big hit that began to put the game out of reach for LSU capped the group’s third consecutive scoring inning, as Bell hit the first of her two doubles to lead off, and was followed by a walk to Kloss to put two on. Jaquish took the 1-2 pitch and drove it down the left field line and over the fence to the Berm for the three-run jack to make it 6-0 LSU.
The home side put the game away in the seventh as Bell reared back for her third hit of the night with a single, as she advanced on a wild pitch which LSU pounced on as Kloss singled to make it 7-0 on Bell’s score before eventually coming in on the errant play at short to end the game and give LSU the victory.
““That’s the good thing about our sport,” Torina said “We get a lot of opportunities. We don’t have to sit a week and wait. We get another opportunity right away. They were able to come back and have an answer for what happened in game one.”
Game One: Harvard 1, LSU 0, 12 innings
With seven innings not enough to decide a winner in No. 22 LSU’s opening game of the Purple and Gold Challenge against Harvard Friday afternoon at Tiger Park, the two teams would battle for five more innings until the Crimson got the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 12th and the Tigers would not be able to counter in the bottom half of the inning, falling 1-0.
In the longest game of the season for the Tigers (12-6), and first extra-inning contest for the club in 2014, LSU managed just seven hits over the course of the marathon affair, stranding 13 runners on base. Through the first seven innings, LSU garnered just three hits, earning the last four thereafter as the team was never able to capitalize with the runner at second once the tie-breaker scenario kicked in.
Jacee Blades and Sahvanna Jaquish each finished with two hits against the Crimson, with Sandra Simmons, Bianka Bell and Allison Falcon adding the others. The Tigers struck out nine times while taking only five walks, as Bailey Landry was walked twice.
Ashley Czechner (5-4) suffered her second loss in as many starts after battling through over 170 pitches and allowing just one unearned run with four strikeouts to five walks. Harvard’s Laura Ricciardone earned the complete-game shutout after striking out nine and walking four on over 180 pitches.
After switching over to the first extra frame, the Crimson went on a two-out rally as a single, walk and another single loaded the bases, getting the first runner to third base in the entire game. Fortunately, the third fly out to Blades in left ended the inning to keep the game scoreless.
LSU was steps away from ending the game in the eighth, as Blades singled on a bunt with one out on the board. Simmons followed that up with a double to the gap in left center and although Blades was hustling on the bags, the speedy left fielder would not be able to slide in under the tag and was put out at home to keep the winning run off of the board. Although Simmons advanced to third on the play, a grounder to third ended the inning.
For the next three Harvard innings, the Crimson would get a runner to third base and come up empty thanks to some handy defense by the Tigers and pitching of Czechner. Blades got revenge in the ninth as with two outs and a runner at first, she scooped up a single to left and on the charge in fired a laser to home to get out the lead runner and end the inning.
In the 10th with the tie-breaker going into effect, a sac bunt moved the runner to third for the first out. After that, a quick grounder to second and a strikeout by Czechner ended the inning. In the 11th, another Harvard sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third for the first out. A grounder to Simmons resulted in a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners, but nothing left the infield as grounders to first and Falcon ended the inning.
IN the 11th, LSU wouldn’t even get the chance to see if it could advance a runner to third or better, as a line drive double play cleared the bases, even as Bell would single through the left side for the last hit of the game for the Tigers.
In the final inning, a walk to Simone Heyward put two on with no outs. A grounder to second advanced Kloss and Heyward to second and third. A foul out to third base by Wray was the second out, while A.J. Andrews went down looking to end the game.
LSU COACH BETH TORINA
On Kelsee Selman’s no-hit shut out against Jackson State…
“She did a great job and did exactly what this team needed her to do. She got the bounce back win and shut the door. She did exactly what we needed her to do and what was expected of her.”
On bouncing back from today’s loss against Harvard…
“That’s the good thing about our sport. We aren’t like football. We get a lot of opportunities. We don’t have to sit a weak and wait. We get another opportunity right away. They were able to come back and have an answer for what happened in game one. I think you always are trying to have an answer when things don’t go well. It was nice to see them answer back to what happened. I think this team is always motivated. They are always motivated to win. I think to deliver and answer back was something we set out to do before the game.”
P KELSEE SELMAN
On her no-hit shut out against Jackson State…
“The past two times out there haven’t been my best for sure. Since then, I have been perfecting my pitches and making sure they are strikes. I needed more confidence in myself. While I was out there, I trusted myself and the hard work I have put in. I trusted God, because I know he will get me through anything and give me the strength. I just wanted to show that even though you fail you can still come back and do your best. I trusted myself and the team behind me.”
SS BIANKA BELL
On her three hits against Jackson State…
“I was just trying to settle in and be myself. I wasn’t myself the first game. I just tried to manufacture runs the second game and get us back to where we were in California. I was just trying to see the ball a little better than I did in the first game. I just wanted to put the ball in play, hit the ball hard, and get on base.”
On bouncing back from today’s loss against Harvard…
“We were flat the first game. We told each other to get on the fence and cheer on your teammates no matter how many outs we had. It doesn’t matter how we are doing. Stay in the game and stay motivated to get through the day.”