NORMAN, Okla. – Down by three, the LSU softball team got a run in the fourth on Constance Quinn’s first career home run and got another score in the fifth, but the Tigers would be unable to get anything further as the team’s rally fell short in a 3-2 loss to No. 22 Oklahoma to drop the series to the Sooners Sunday afternoon at Marita Hynes Field in Norman.
Although the team did not leave as many runners on base as it did on Saturday, LSU (19-12) stranded six along with OU (21-8), including having a bases loaded opportunity in the fifth with only one out on the board.
“It’s definitely a reoccurring theme with our team,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We just need to be a little gutsier, a little more clutch and find a way. We are in every ballgame, we just need to find a way to get the final hit and make the final blow.”
The two teams had six hits each, as A.J. Andrews extended her career-long hitting streak to 13 games after going 2-for-4, while Bianka Bell extended hers to a now career-long eight games after going 2-for-3.
Quinn earned the start at the designated player spot and wasted little time in producing as she went 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Simone Heyward produced the final hit for the Tigers on the afternoon, coming in the fifth inning.
“She’s definitely a spark for us off of the bench, but she’s the emotional heart and soul of the team,” Torina said. “So when she can step into the lineup and do that, she can really fuel us and help us in the long run.”
Ashley Czechner suffered the loss and fell to 6-6 on the season after giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks. The senior was cruising after two innings, but things fell apart for the team defensively after Oklahoma scored two runs on two hits with two errors to go up three.
Oklahoma got two hits each from Georgia Casey, Shelby Pendley and Brittany Williams on the day, as Pendley also earned her first win of the season in the circle as she came on in the jam-packed fifth and struck out the final two batters of the inning to get the Sooners out of a possible game-changing inning for the Tigers. Pendley pitched the final 2.2 innings and allowed one hit, coming on for starter Kelsey Stevens who lasted 4.1 innings after allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
After a pair of scoreless innings, OU began to put things in motion as a sky-high fly ball fell fair in the infield to net a double for the Sooners to open the bottom of the third. After a fly out to right, a walk put two on for the Sooners, as the pair stole second and third and the resulting throw from Sahvanna Jaquish to third went off of the runner at third’s helmet allowing the run to come in on the error to put OU up 1-0.
A foul out to Tammy Wray at third put two outs on the board, but Oklahoma struck again with a double to left to make it 2-0. Another error, this time on a throw to first by Czechner allowed the third run to cross the plate and advance the second to make it 3-0 before a pop up to Sandra Simmons ended the inning.
With Oklahoma starting the scoring in the previous frame, LSU opened the fourth and got the solo shot from Quinn to make it 3-1, as Bell also singled to give the Tigers three hits in the game, but the Tiger shortstop would get stranded on base to keep the deficit at two runs.
In the top of the fifth the Tigers got back going as Falcon reached first after an error at first base to open the frame. Wray tried to bunt the LSU second baseman over, but Falcon was thrown out at second on the force out for the first out of the inning. Heyward followed that up with a single on the ground to put two on for LSU.
With a chance for LSU to make a push, Layna Savoie came on to pinch run for Wray at third, as Andrews singled to load the bases for the Tigers, as Quinn took one on the foot to bring in Savoie and make it a 3-2 game. After a pitching change and with LSU threatening, Bell and Jaquish went down on strikeouts to end the inning.
“You need pitching, hitting and defense on any given day to win and I don’t think we had two of the three,” Torina said. “I don’t think we’ve played good defense as of late and I think that’s something that we need to go back and make sure that we fix. That is an area where I think we are capable of doing better and one of our strengths. We have to go back and make sure we’re performing there.”
LSU returns to SEC play on Friday, traveling to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
POST GAME QUOTES
LSU HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On being unable to get the timely hit
“It’s definitely a reoccurring theme with our team. We just need to be a little gutsier, a little more clutch and find a way. We are in every ballgame, we just need to find a way to get the final hit and make the final blow.”
On the play of Constance Quinn
“She had a great day for us. She’s definitely a spark for us off of the bench, but she’s the emotional heart and soul of the team. So when she can step into the lineup and do that, she can really fuel us and help us in the long run.”
On the two errors in the third inning
“You need pitching, hitting and defense on any given day to win and I don’t think we had two of the three. I don’t think we’ve played good defense as of late and I think that’s something that we need to go back and make sure that we fix. That is an area where I think we are capable of doing better and one of our strengths. We have to go back and make sure we’re performing there.”
On preparing for Alabama next week
“We have to make sure we’re playing solid defense, and that we are taking care of the things that know we’re strong at. And we are also going to work on putting the team in some situations, and trying to get some results from them and put the pressure on to make everything feel very game-like throughout this week’s practices.”