BATON ROUGE, La. – With the winner advancing to Sunday’s regional title game, the No. 10 LSU softball team took control early and never looked back in earning a 4-1 win over the McNeese State Cowgirls Saturday afternoon at Tiger Park, claiming a spot on the final day for the second consecutive year.
A single pair of two-out runs crossing the plate in the first and third gave the Tigers (47-15) a two-run advantage, but after the lead was cut to just one late, LSU plated a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to extend the lead by three, holding off the Cowgirls (43-13) in the end to secure the victory.
“I can barely remember a game against McNeese State where it wasn't an absolute battle. Every time you play them I feel like it’s just down to the wire,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I thought our team continued to fight. We had a lot of opportunities with people on base and they made some great pitches.”
Leading the way was junior Sahvanna Jaquish, who became the second LSU player in program to earn 200 RBIs in a career, driving in three on a 3-for-4 day with a double. She’s now at 69 on the season, seven away from tying her school record she set last season with 76.
“It’s really cool when other people are on base and I’m up,” Jaquish said. “It gives me an opportunity to put something through and it just worked out for me today.”
Emily Griggs was the only other player with multiple hits, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. On the day, six different players earned hits as the Tigers finished with double-digits for the second consecutive game with 10.
Carley Hoover (20-7) earned her second win of the weekend as she held McNeese State to a run on five hits with eight strikeouts on 100 pitches tossed. With the win, the Clemson, South Carolina, native is the first LSU pitcher since Rachele Fico in 2013 to earn at least 20 in a single year.
“McNeese is a very good team and I feel like we went in with a really good plan against them,” Hoover said.
Jamie Allred (17-4) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and seven walks in 5.1 innings of work. Marisa Taunton had two hits for the Cowgirls, while Emily Vincent drove in the only run for McNeese State on a home run late in the contest.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Bianka Bell drew a walk to reach first to put the first LSU runner on base. On the very next play she’d have to put on the skates as Jaquish doubled to left center allowing Bell to score from first to give LSU an early 1-0 advantage.
In the top of the third, an infield single put a McNeese State runner on base, with a sacrifice bunt advancing the runner to second. Another infield single put runners at the corners for the Cowgirls, as an intentional walk loaded the bases for the visitors. With the bases juiced, Hoover locked down, getting the next two batters to strike out to end the threat.
Griggs opened the bottom of the third by legging out an infield single to second on a full count. After two straight outs, Bell singled to deep short to put two on for the Tigers, leaving it for Jaquish again who ripped a single through the left side to score Griggs to make it 2-0 Tigers.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, a solo home run put McNeese State on the board to cut LSU’s lead to 2-1. A single and an error put the tying run at second base, but a slow dribbler to first ended the inning.
A single to second base by Griggs opened the bottom half of the sixth, as after a strikeout Landry singled to center to put two on. A walk to Bell loaded the bases for LSU, as Jaquish flared a single to right center to drive in a run forcing a McNeese pitching change, as Kellsi Kloss dropped a single to left center to drive in another run to make it 4-1 LSU.
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