BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 12 LSU softball team produced 11 hits offensively and got a two-hitter from Carley Hoover in the circle as the Tigers defeated the McNeese State Cowgirls 5-2 Tuesday evening at Tiger Park, winning the team’s final midweek game of the season and pushing their unbeaten run to seven games.
LSU (37-13) scored four of its five runs in the first two innings and earned nine of their 11 hits in the first 13 at-bats of the game to strike the first blow against the Cowgirls (33-11), while Hoover had a no-hitter through four innings as she only gave up a pair of hits through the contest to earn the complete-game victory in the circle. The win moved LSU to 10-0 in midweek games this year and 7-0 against Louisiana teams this year.
“I think it was a tough game, and McNeese is a very good opponent. There are always things that I wish we could have done better, but we fought and it was a quality win for our team,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We took the extra time to prepare for them by changing our off day this week. We wanted to get ready for their pitching staff and preparing for what they bring to the table.”
The top four hitters in the LSU lineup all finished with multiple hits in the win, led by senior Bianka Bell who went 3-for-3 as she is the new program leader in total bases in LSU history with 469 with five games in the regular season and the postseason to go.
“I’m out here doing everything I can to spark my team and find a way to win, and if that means being a record holder then I’ll take it,” Bell said. “At the end of the day, I really want a national title. All those individual accolades are cool, but I want the team aspect more than myself.”
Sahvanna Jaquish was 2-for-4 on the night with a double and three RBIs, Sandra Simmons with a double among her two hits and a run scored and Emily Griggs with two hits and two runs scored with a walk.
Hoover (14-6) allowed one earned run in the win on Tuesday, walking and striking out four on 118 pitches thrown. The sophomore retired the side in three of the seven innings as the Cowgirls struggled much of the night.
“This was a really good win, this wasn’t just a shut-up-and-play midweek game,” Hoover said. “McNeese is a very good team and this is a very good win to add to our schedule.”
Emily Vincent (12-3) suffered the loss allowing five runs, four earned, on all 11 hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work. Jamie Allred three just five pitches and get the only out of the inning she needed in the sixth. Tori Yanitor and Vincent had the only two hits for McNeese offensively.
The Tigers opened the offensive in the first, as consecutive bunt singles from Simmons and Griggs put two on for LSU, as Bell ripped a single up the middle to load the bases. Following suit, Jaquish laced a double down the left field line to drive in two to give LSU an early 2-0 lead.
With two on a wild pitch allowed Jaquish to move to third, but Bell was put out at home for the first out. Kellsi Kloss lifted a single to the short porch in left to drive in Jaquish to make it 3-0 Tigers. After a fly ball out, a Constance Quinn single and a walk to Amber Serrett loaded the bases again for LSU, but a strikeout ended the inning.
“Usually it took us an at-bat or two to get going and coach really told us today to come out in the first at-bat like we know what we’re doing,” Jaquish said.
In the very next frame, Griggs earned her second hit of the day to reach with an out in the bottom of the second. Bell singled through the right side to put runners at the corners as a Jaquish single through the right side plated another Tiger run to put the team on top 4-0.
A walk to open the McNeese fifth put one on for the visitors, as a single to left put two on for the Cowgirls. A sacrifice bunt advanced the two McNeese runners to second and third, as on the next play, a grounder back to Hoover in the circle started a cat-and-mouse game with the lead runner at third, as everyone was safe to load the bases. A run would cross on the next play, as Serrett was able to put out the lead runner at third for the second out, with Kloss throwing out the next runner trying to steal third to end the inning.
Kloss drew a walk to open the bottom of the fifth, as Akiya Thymes came on to pinch run for the LSU catcher. She stole second, as the errant throw to try and catch her went into the outfield to move to third. Another error on a toss back to the circle allowed Thymes to score to put LSU up 5-1.
A walk and an error in the seventh put two McNeese runners on, with a wild pitch advancing the two to second and third. An infield popup put an out on the board, as a single to left scored McNeese’s final run of the game as a foul out and grounder to the circle ended the game, preserving the win for LSU.
“I think this is a tough to place for the visiting team to play and that is made up by the awesome fans that we have here at Tiger Park,” Torina said. “We love playing at home and love playing in front of our crowd and we love our Tiger fans.”
LSU will be back in action this weekend, traveling to Fayetteville for the final SEC conference series of the year against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger softball, visit www.lsusports.net/softball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball along with @lsusoftball and @BethTorina on Twitter and @lsusb on Instagram.