HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Aided by an outstanding day at the plate for A.J. Andrews, LSU senior pitcher Ashley Czechner struck out a season-high 10 batters and held the Hofstra Pride to two runs on four hits to help lead the Tigers to a 5-2 opening win of the team’s doubleheader on Wednesday at the Hofstra Softball Complex.
Striking out two batters in each of the final four frames, Czechner improved to 8-10 on the season in the complete-game effort after walking just two on 114 pitches for LSU (25-18), while the Tigers scored four of their five runs against the Pride (22-11) in the first two innings alone. The Tigers had the leadoff batter earn a hit in each of the first three innings and four of seven overall.
“I think Ashley threw a nice game, and I think we had some good performances from some different people throughout the lineup,” head coach Beth Torina said.
Andrews had a monster game at the plate, leading the team going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored on a triple and double in her first two at-bats. Bianka Bell went 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Bailey Landry, Constance Quinn, Kellsi Kloss and Sandra Simmons each had one hit.
Playing in front of friends and family in her home state of New York, senior third baseman Tammy Wray had two RBI for LSU in the win for the second consecutive game.
Taylor Pirone, who came in with a sub-2.00 earned run average, allowed five runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in the loss, while Michaela Transue went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored on a home run. Maggie Hawkins was the final multi-hit player of the game going 2-for-3.
The Tigers couldn’t have asked for a better start as Andrews ripped a triple to the gap in left center to open the game. After a strikeout, Bell connected on a single through the right side to put the Tigers on top 1-0 early. The inning ended after a strikeout and Bell getting caught trying to steal second base.
Kloss took the first pitch of her at-bat and drove it through the left side of the infield to take first, as Simmons put down a bunt single to put two on for the Tigers. Allison Falcon got hit on the leg to load the bases for LSU, as Wray earned the walk to score Kloss to put the Tigers up 2-0 over the Pride. Jacee Blades grounded out to first as Simmons was thrown out at the plate for the first out, but LSU was still able to convert their opportunities as Andrews hit a double to left center to drive in two and give LSU a 4-0 lead.
With just one hit through 5.2 innings, a home run by Transue at the bottom of the order cut the LSU lead in half for the Pride’s second of the day to make it 4-2 Tigers after five innings.
After Hofstra got two runs back, the Tigers retorted in the top of the sixth as Kloss was walked to take first and was replaced on the bases by Alex Boulet. A fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt by Simmons was able to keep everyone safe as Boulet slid in under the tag on the throw to second. An error on a misplayed throw on a grounder by Falcon at second loaded the bases for LSU with no outs on the board.
Wray grounded out to third as the third baseman stepped on the bag to get the force out but Boulet still scored to give LSU a 5-2 advantage. Dylan Supak came on to pinch it and grounded out to third advancing Wray to second and Falcon to third. The inning ended with a shallow fly to center field by Andrews to take a three-run lead into the final innings.
Game Two: Hofstra 5, LSU 3
In the finale of the doubleheader between the LSU and Hofstra, the Tigers could never seem to pull away from the Pride as the two traded scores, but the one big inning Hofstra got put the home side on top for good as the Tigers dropped game two 5-3 Wednesday to split the day’s action.
After scoring two runs, the Pride (23-11) came back and tied the game after three scoreless frames between the two. After LSU (25-19) scored a run in the sixth, Hofstra countered and got a three run home run to jump out to a two run lead with only three outs left to work for the Tigers which they would not be able to come back from.
The Tigers stranded 12 base runners in the contest and could not capitalize on five Pride errors over the course of the game.
“We just can’t seem to find the consistency we need, and we had some of the same issues we’ve had all year in not being able to get the timely hit,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We left too many runners on base, and we need to do a better job of scoring when we have the opportunity.”
LSU had three players earn multiple hits on the day led by Allison Falcon who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored on her seventh home run of the season. Sandra Simmons went 2-for-4 with two doubles, while Tammy Wray went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored, as the three accounted for six of LSU’s nine hits on the night. Bianka Bell went 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Simone Heyward went 1-for2 with a run scored.
Baylee Corbello started strong and worked out of a handful of jams, but two pitches sent her to the loss as she gave up all five runs on eight hits, two being home runs, with six strikeouts and four walks to fall to 12-7 on the season.
Morgan Lashley went the distance and moved to 13-4 on the year after allowing three runs, two earned with five strikeouts and two walks. She was helped by her offense in Kim Smith who had two RBI on her home run and Michaela Transue who hit her second home run of the day, this time a three-run bomb for her only hit of the game.
After a fly out to center, Blades reached first after a high infield popup fell fair off of the catcher’s glove, with another fly out to center proving to be the second out. Quinn reached with a walk and as Blades took off on the pitch and moved to third on the throwing error to put runners at the corners. Quinn stole second to put two in scoring position, but a strikeout ended the inning.
Hofstra tried to get its offense going in the first as after a grounder to second, a bunt single and throwing error put a runner on second with one out. Another single, this time through the left side put runners at the corners, but Corbello worked through the jam striking out the final two batters to end the frame.
The Tigers once again was the beneficiary of a Hofstra miscue, as Andrews made her way to second after an error in left. Blades earned a walk, as a grounder moved the two to second and third with just one out. Trying to get the defense sleeping, a failed bunt resulted in a pop up to first, as a strikeout ended the inning for LSU.
After three scoreless frames for both sides, Falcon ended that drought as she took a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left center to give LSU a 1-0 lead with one out on the board. Wray doubled to left center to continue the inning, as Alayna Falcon singled through the right side as a pinch hitter to put runners at the corners. An error at second allowed Wray to score on an Andrews grounder that got past second to make it 2-0 and leave two on.
Hailey Smith came on to pinch hit and got hit to load the bases for the Tigers, but the inning ended as a fielder’s choice forced out the lead runner at home, with a grounder to short providing the third out for Hofstra.
The Pride didn’t wait long to net the equalizer, as Smith plated two after a deep home run to left center to tie the game at 2-2. A walk and single kept the inning going, but a strikeout and fly out ended the frame with the game again knotted.
In the bottom of the fifth after a strikeout, a walk put one on for Hofstra. After another strikeout, a double down the left field line put two in scoring position. However, the third strikeout of the inning ended the Pride threat.
Heyward led off the sixth with a single to short left field, moving over to second after a sacrifice bunt by Andrews for the first out. Kailey McCasland came on to pinch hit, but struck out for the second out as it seemed like LSU would squander another opportunity with a runner in scoring position. Instead, Bell came through and connected on a single through the middle to score the outfielder from second to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
The bottom half of the inning again proved to be a tough one for the Tigers as a walk and single put two on, and it was costly as Transue homered to left center to give the Pride their first lead of the day up 5-3.
LSU will be back in action this weekend, traveling to South Carolina for a key, three-game SEC series against the Gamecocks.