OXFORD, Miss. – With the game tied at 1-1, the LSU softball team exploded for one of its trademark big scoring innings as the Tigers used a six-run third to score eight total in the final three frames of the game in a 10-1 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels in five innings Friday night in the series opener between the two teams.
It what looked to be a tense contest after the first two innings of play, LSU (29-20, 9-10 SEC) earned seven-straight hits in the third and used two of Ole Miss’ (22-26, 3-16) three errors in the game to jump out to a 7-1 lead and cruised scoring all 10 runs on 12 hits to improve to 15-3 on the season when earning double-digit hits and 11-0 when scoring that many or more in a game. LSU has now scored double-digit runs in four of the last five league games.
“I liked how we continued to score,” head coach Beth Torina said. “It’s easy to score a big group of runs before you scale back and stop putting pressure on teams, but I like how we continued to press and keep the pressure on throughout the game.”
A.J. Andrews finished a hit short of the cycle on Friday night, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a stolen base, opening the game with a triple before earning a single and double in two of her next three at-bats for her fifth three-hit game of the season.
“It was really nice to see A.J. have a good day because I know she’s been putting a lot of pressure on herself to perform, so it was great to see her come through for us like that,” Torina said.
Sahvanna Jaquish hit her 11th home run of the year against the Rebels, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored as she now has six games with that many this season, along with tying her career-long hitting streak which now stands at five games. Bianka Bell did the same going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, as she has tied her season and career best hitting streak which is now at eight games.
Rounding out the Tiger multi-hit games was sophomore first baseman Sandra Simmons who went 2-for-3 with an RBI, earning her 12th two-hit game of the season which leads the team and 13th multi-hit game overall. Jacee Blades went 1-for-4 with a run scored, while Kellsi Kloss went 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored and Allison Falcon going 1-for-2 with an RBI.
In one of her best outings to date in league play, Ashley Czechner earned her 10th win of the season in holding Ole Miss to one run on one hit in five complete innings of work, walking five and striking out six. The single base knock is the lowest the Pawley’s Island, S.C., native has given up in a start on the season, as she at one point retired eight consecutive Rebel batters in order from the end of the second to the beginning of the sixth.
“I thought it was a tough strike zone to throw into today, and I think she made a really good adjustment from the beginning of the game to the end, so she deserves a lot of credit for being able to get them out in that zone and making the right adjustments to do so,” Torina said.
Ole Miss Starter Carly Hummel fell to 10-13 on the season as she allowed seven runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings of work, while reliever Madi Osias allowed three runs on four hits in 2.2 innings with four walks and a strikeout. RT Cantillo earned the only hit and RBI for Ole Miss on the day, going 1-for-1 with two walks.
Andrews went to a 2-2 count before sending a sky-high shot over the head of the left fielder that landed on the inside of the foul line to allow the LSU centerfielder to move to third for the triple. On the very next play with Blades at the plate, the throw from catcher to pitcher went high and into center to allow Andrews to score on the error to put the team up 1-0 for the only run of the inning.
A pair of walks for the second consecutive inning proved to be costly for Czechner in the bottom of the second, as a tapped single through the middle of the infield allowed a runner to score to tie the game at 1-1.
A crazy third inning began with a walk to Wray to open, with a sacrifice bunt by Landry advancing Wray to second for the first out. A single by Andrews began the Tiger hit parade as Wray moved to third to put runners at the corners. After Andrews stole second, Blades singled to second and Wray scored on the resulting throwing error to put LSU up 2-1 with Andrews moving to third and Blades to second.
Jaquish followed up with a sharp single to left field to score Andrews to make it 3-1 Tigers as Blades moved to second and Jaquish made it to first and moved to second on the throw in. Bell smoked one through the infield to score Blades to make it a three run game at 4-1, moving Jaquish to third. LSU wasn’t done as Kloss hit one to left to score Jaquish and make it 5-1 with Bell moving to second to keep two on for the Tigers.
Ole Miss made their first defensive change of the inning in replacing the left fielder, but it mattered little as Simmons singled up the middle to load the bases again for LSU. Falcon followed with a single of her own up the middle to score Bell, as another Rebel error, the second of the inning, allowed Kloss to score to make it 7-1 Tigers for the final run of the inning.
With one out in the fourth, Jaquish drew a walk to take first, as Bell ripped her second hit of the game down the right field line to push Jaquish to third to put runners at the corners. A walk to Kloss loaded the bases for the Tigers, as Simmons connected for a single through the right side to score Jaquish as Bell would be thrown out at home with LSU now leading 8-1.
After a grounder to second to open the fifth, Andrews doubled to the gap in left center, with a grounder to third allowing Andrews advance to third. Staring down a 2-2 count, Jaquish crushed the fourth pitch of the at-bat and sent it to the bleachers in left for the two-run shot to make it 10-1, as the Tigers closed out the game in the next frame with just four Ole Miss batters having a turn at bat.
Game two of the series is set for a 2 p.m. first pitch in Oxford.