BATON ROUGE, La. – After the first meeting of the season back in February where they were unable to get more than a single run across the plate, the LSU softball team was ready this time around and scored six runs on seven hits to defeat No 20 South Alabama, 6-1, Wednesday night at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge.
In the final non-conference home game of the season for the squad, LSU (28-20) pounced on the Jaguars (34-10) early to the tune of three runs in the first two innings alone, taking advantage of five of the six walks South Alabama pitching doled out on the evening. Both teams plated at least a run on an error by the other side, as USA scored its only run of the contest in the fourth, while LSU was able to take two from the Jaguars on an error in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach.
“This is a really big win. They are a quality program,” head coach Beth Torina said. “It is a huge win to take a game from a top 25 team like that. I think it is going to carry us a long way. I am excited about our team getting it done. We did it and got the win. That is what matters.”
The Tigers got balance up and down the order on Wednesday night, led by Allison Falcon who went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while senior Tammy Wray continues her torrid pace as of late going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Bianka Bell was 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI, while Sahvanna Jaquish was 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI.
Of the six walks to LSU batters, A.J. Andrews was the recipient of three for the Tigers, as she scored all three times at the top of the order and stole three bases for the third time this season and first time since Feb. 15 against George Washington. Sandra Simmons had a hit in three at-bats with a walk, while Constance Quinn had an RBI and run scored in three total at-bats and Jacee Blades scored once.
For the ninth time this season, LSU freshman starting pitcher Baylee Corbello held an opponent to three hits or fewer in a contest as she allowed an unearned run on three hits with eight strikeouts to just three walks. Corbello improved to 14-7 on the season, working out of three big jams with the help of the defense in the third, sixth and seventh innings, as USA had multiple runners come up fruitless as the Jaguars stranded seven overall.
“We are peaking at the right time,” Corbello said. “We are peaking at the end of the season. We are starting to play our best ball now, and it’s only going to go our way.”
The Tigers got on the board quickly in the first as three consecutive walks loaded the bases for LSU in the bottom half of the inning. Andrews drew a walk and stole second, as Blades and Jaquish were each walked on four pitches. Bell was the third consecutive player to earn a walk on just four pitches, as Andrews scored to give LSU a 1-0 lead.
With the bases still juiced, Quinn hit a deep enough fly in her at-bat to left field to score Blades from third to give LSU a two-run lead. After a fly ball out to right, Falcon got plunked on the leg to put three back on for LSU, but a deep fly to left ended the inning.
After a bunt grounder for the first out, Andrews drew her second walk of the game to take first. After stealing second for the second time, a popup in foul territory gave the Tigers their second out of the inning. With a 1-2 count, Jaquish doubled to the gap in right center to easily score the LSU centerfielder to give the home side a 3-0 lead over the Jaguars after two.
South Alabama would get an unearned run in the top of the fourth inning off of a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 LSU, but the Tigers came back in the bottom half of that inning as Andrews drew her third walk of the game to take first. She would steal second on a swinging third strike for the first out, as a fly out to center was the second. It looked like Andrews was going to get stranded until Bell ripped a shot to right center for the RBI double to bring in Andrews and give LSU a 4-1 lead.
“She fooled me the first time I was up to bat,” Bell said. “I was a little early. I told myself to sit back and wait on it to drive in a run for us.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Bell got hit on the hand and took first, getting replaced by Alex Boulet who came in to pinch run. Quinn hit a grounder to second and on the toss to short for the force out to try and begin a double play, the ball was dropped for the error as both were safe on the play. A grounder by Simmons advanced the two to second and third, with Falcon connecting on an infield single to score Boulet and Wray wrangling one to left center to score Quinn and make it 6-1 for the final score.
“At this point, any win is crucial with us,” Corbello said. “It feels good to beat a team like South Alabama. They come in and play hard every time you play them. It was a great win.”
The Tigers will be back in action this weekend, opening a three-game series against the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford on Friday evening.
LSU HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On tonight’s win against No. 20 South Alabama…
“This is a really big win. They are a quality program. It is a huge win to take a game from a top 25 team like that. I think it is going to carry us a long way. I am excited about our team getting it done. We did it and got the win. That is what matters.”
On LSU’s execution on offense…
“We talked a lot about executing in this game especially with a solid pitching staff. We might not be able to step up and swing and hit the ball over the place, but execute with our bunts and sac flies. That was part of the plan, and they did a really good job with that.”
P BAYLEE CORBELLO
On tonight’s win against No. 20 South Alabama…
“We are peaking at the right time. We are peaking at the end of the season. We are starting to play our best ball now, and it’s only going to go our way.”
On the importance of tonight’s win…
“At this point, any win is crucial with us. It feels good to beat a team like South Alabama. They come in and play hard every time you play them. It was a great win.”
On limiting the amount of walks in a game…
“Finally practice is paying off. I am getting back that confidence. I feel like I can pitch to anyone at this point.”
SS BIANKA BELL
On her RBI double…
“She fooled me the first time I was up to bat. I was a little early. I told myself to sit back and wait on it to drive in a run for us.”
On South Alabama’s starting pitcher…
“We were looking forward to their number one and two pitcher. Getting her threw us off a little bit, but we got into a groove. We started scoring runs off her.”