BATON ROUGE, La. – After providing the heroics in game one of the series, LSU shortstop Bianka Bell continued swinging a hot bat as she helped pace a Tiger offense that pounded out eight runs on ten hits, while Baylee Corbello struck out eight and gave up just four hits in an 8-0 run-rule victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs to clinch the series Saturday night at Tiger Park.
Displaying the form that earned her co-SEC Freshman of the Year honors last season, Bell helped put the Tigers (34-20, 13-10 SEC) on top in the very first inning with a three-run home run, while putting the exclamation point to a solid night in the sixth with a double to plate the final run of the game and put a cap on a 2-for-4 night with career-high tying four RBI and a run scored.
“She is seeing the ball really well. I think the fact that Sahvanna Jaquish is swinging the ball so well in front of her gives Bianka a lot of pitches,” head coach Beth Torina said. “The two of them combined help each other out so much. She is seeing a lot of pitches and seeing them really well.”
Bell was one of three Tigers on the night to finish with multiple hits as Allison Falcon went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Jacee Blades was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Also putting on a power show was freshman designated player Constance Quinn who hit her third home run of the season, going 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored. A.J. Andrews went 1-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, with Sandra Simmons and Tammy Wray each going 1-for-3.
“I think a lot of credit goes to our staff that works with our offense, Howard Dobson, Lindsey Leftwich, and Sharonda McDonald,” Torina said. “Our kids were really prepared for what they were going to see. I thought they did a really good job of sticking to the plan. They capitalized on everything that was thrown at them.”
Corbello was masterful on the mound in keeping the Bulldogs (37-18, 9-14) at bay, walking two and hitting two, as Mississippi State had multiple runners on base just twice on the night as she improved to 17-7 on the season in her 19th complete game effort of the year.
“My mindset was to attack and not try to be perfect,” Corbello said. “I knew our defense worked hard all week. I knew I worked hard all week on hitting spots and being accurate. I knew I was going to get tougher umpires. I put all that in my mindset.”
Alison Owen lasted just one inning and it was enough to end her day as she allowed all five runs on four this with two walks in the loss, as Shana Sherrod pitched the final 4.2 for MSU and gave up three runs on six hits with no walks and no strikeouts. At the very bottom of the order, Loryn Nichols was the best hitter for the Bulldogs as she went 2-for-2 with Logan Foulks and Jessica Offutt had one hit each.
After the Bulldogs went down in order in the top of the first, the Tigers opened their half with a sharp single by Andrews to short, with the resulting errant throw to first allowing her to move to second. After an infield popup for the first out, Sahvanna Jaquish drew a walk to put two on for the Tigers. After a smoked foul ball to the bleachers, Bell rectified quickly and on the very next pitch unloaded one to left for the three-run bomb to give LSU a 3-0 lead.
Quinn got hit during her at-bat to take first, as Simmons soon joined her on the bases as she singled through the left side to put two back on for LSU. With a 2-2 count, Falcon connected on a single through the left side as well as Quinn motored around to score to make it a 4-0 game for LSU. In a long at-bat, Simone Heyward drew a walk to load the bases for LSU, as a grounder to second and the easy toss to second was not in time as Simmons scored to put the team up five but Falcon was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
In the very next inning, Blades led off with a single to center to take first as the Tigers continued to produce at the plate. The senior left fielder would advance to second on a deep fly to left and eventually moving to third on a grounder back to the circle. Blades came in on a wild pitch to give LSU a 6-0 advantage. The two-out rally wasn’t over there, as Quinn went to a full count before she launched one that skirted down left field and over the fence for the solo shot to put the Tigers up seven.
“I just saw the pitch,” Quinn said. “I’ve been working on keeping my forearm down and trusting what the coaches tell me going up to bat. When I hit it, I knew it was going to the fence. So I just ran until I saw it over.”
After getting the first two batters of the fourth to go down with a strikeout and popup to Falcon at second, a walk put one on for Mississippi State, as a hit batter quickly put two on for MSU. It looked like the Tigers were going to get out of the inning with a 1-2 count, but a sharp single to Blades in left kept the inning going and fortunately kept any runs from crossing, as Corbello got the last batter to strike out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth with one out already, Blades laced a single to center to take first. After a popup to second base, Bell came through again and drilled one that looked to be over the fence but stayed in the park and still did its job, bringing in Blades to make it 8-0 to end the game.
LSU closes out the 2014 regular season on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. at Tiger Park.
LSU HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On LSU’s offensive performance tonight…
“I think a lot of credit goes to our staff that works with our offense, Howard Dobson, Lindsey Leftwich, and Sharonda McDonald. Our kids were really prepared for what they were going to see. I thought they did a really good job of sticking to the plan. They capitalized on everything that was thrown at them.”
On Baylee Corbello’s pitching performance…
“I thought she was really sharp tonight. She did a good job of throwing things all over the zone and being around the zone. She eliminated her free passes tonight, and I think that is a huge reason to why she was so successful tonight.”
On Bianka Bell’s three-run home run tonight…
“She is seeing the ball really well. I think the fact that Sahvanna Jaquish is swinging the ball so well in front of her gives Bianka a lot of pitches. The two of them combined help each other out so much. She is seeing a lot of pitches and seeing them really well.”
On preparing for the SEC tournament…
“I think this is a team that will match up really well in the conference tournament. They are capable of scoring some big numbers. They will come out and do whatever it takes to get a win.”
DP CONSTANCE QUINN
On her solo homerun…
“I just saw the pitch. I’m not really good at reading if it’s outside, inside or down the plate. I just saw it. I’ve been working on keeping my forearm down and trusting what the coaches tell me going up to bat. When I hit it, I knew it was going to the fence. So I just ran until I saw it over. I give the glory to God for that.”
On finding her place in the LSU lineup…
“I am getting comfortable where I am at. As Coach says, never get too comfortable because you never know when you will go in. Whether it is Friday or Sunday, I’m always prepared.”
SS BIANKA BELL
On her three-run homerun tonight…
“Our coaches set us up for what they would throw to us. I was basically looking to zone down the rise ball and screwball. She gave me two back-to-back screwballs. I was looking in, and it just went out.”
On LSU’s offense heading into the SEC tournament…
“Having everyone, one through nine, hitting through the lineup is a great part of the game. It will definitely carry us into the SEC tournament and even to regionals.”
RHP BAYLEE CORBELLO
On her mindset going into this game…
“My mindset was to attack and not try to be perfect. I knew our defense worked hard all week. I knew I worked hard all week on hitting spots and being accurate. I knew I was going to get tougher umpires. I put all that in my mindset.”
On LSU’s offensive performance tonight…
“Whenever I see them working hard, that makes me want to work even harder. I don’t want them to be in a situation where they have to get runs. I feel like them coming out and getting all those runs gives me an extra edge. It also makes me want to work hard for them.”
On LSU’s pitching heading to the SEC tournament…
“I think Ashley and I found our roles in the end. We stopped trying to be perfect. We stopped trying to strike everyone out. I feel like everything is falling into place now.”