FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Down by four runs with two innings left to play and pushed to the brink, the No. 12 LSU softball team sprang to life scoring five runs in the final two innings, including a two-out, two-RBI triple from senior Kellsi Kloss to take the lead in a three-run seventh to earn a comeback, 5-4 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday in Fayetteville.
After scoring 10 runs in the opener, the Tigers (39-13, 12-11 Southeastern) spotted the Razorbacks (17-35, 1-19) four runs in the opening three frames to give the home side a shot of confidence, but slowly began to chip away late and finally broke through by earning five of their 10 total hits in the contest in the last two innings to claim the series and push the team’s winning streak to nine games.
“I love seeing the fight of our team. It’s not the first time this season we’ve been down to our last strike and be able to come away with a win,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I think that’s such an unbelievable quality for a team to have; to have guts and fight down to the wire when your back is against the wall and be able to find a way.”
Three Tigers finished the game with two hits, paced by Kloss who finished the night 2-for-4 with three RBIs, roping her 10th double and second triple of the year and the second on the night for LSU. Sandra Simmons had the first, finishing the game going 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Bianka Bell went 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.
Carley Hoover (15-6) earned the win by staying strong in the circle after those Arkansas runs came through, shutting out the Razorbacks the rest of the way to end the day striking out eight with a single walk in the contest.
“She had a really gutsy, gritty performance, going to some different pitches and using a game plan that was a little different than what we had prepared for,” Torina said. “We’re going to have a little bit of a different plan for them tomorrow and we’re going to go to the drawing board and come ready to play.”
Grace Moll (12-28) suffered the loss, allowing all five runs on 10 hits with nine strikeouts and three walks, tossing 144 pitches in all seven innings. Ashley Diaz and Shelby Hiers each had two hits for Arkansas offensively.
Simmons opened the game with a triple to dead center in the top of the first. However on the next play, a chopper to short was sharp enough to get the throw home to tag out Simmons at the plate for the first out. A single by Bell put two on, but a double play on a liner to first ended the inning.
After LSU threatened to score in the opening frame with its pair of hits, the Razorbacks wound up striking the first blow, as an infield single followed by a two-base error set the stage for Arkansas to strike with two outs, getting a single to right to plate the unearned run to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
With an out in the bottom of the third, a double to left center put an Arkansas runner in scoring position. A single to short put runners at the corners, spelling trouble as a three-run home run extended Arkansas’ lead to 4-0 over LSU.
Bell drew a walk to put one on for LSU in the top of the sixth, turning on the wheels shortly after as Sahvanna Jaquish laced one through the left side of the defense, both in the infield and outfield, for the double to score Bell putting LSU on the board down 4-1. On the very next play, Kloss ripped a double to right center, scoring Jaquish to cut the deficit in half at 4-2. Taylor Lockwood came on to pinch run, moving to third on a wild pitch, but she would be left there as the next three batters went down in order to end the inning.
Bailey Landry opened the top of the seventh with a high-chopping single over third base to reach first. A lengthy at-bat for Simmons nearly ended in a strikeout, but the senior persevered and singled through the right side as Landry raced to third, allowing Simmons to move to second on the play.
A liner to short kept the two at bay, as Bell was walked to load the bases for the Tigers. Landry would come in on a wild pitch as everyone moved up a base to make it 4-2 as a strikeout nearly put LSU to the sword, but with a 3-2 count Kloss came through and tripled down the right field line to bring in both to give LSU its first lead of the day at 5-4.
Arkansas would not be able to match LSU’s momentum as Hoover retired the side for the second time on the night to secure the series and win for the Tigers.
LSU closes out the series with Arkansas at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bogle Park. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.
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