BATON ROUGE, La. – In the team’s opener of the 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, the No. 10 LSU softball team produced 10 runs on 15 hits, plating eight runs in the final three frames of the game to breeze past the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds 10-2 in six innings Friday evening at Tiger Park.
After watching the visitors come back to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth, the Tigers (46-15) got the timely hits when it counted as eight different players produced base knocks on the evening, while LIU Brooklyn (30-26) was held to just five hits, while committing three errors that kept LSU runs going.
“I thought LIU was a very tough opponent, and I think we all understand why they’re here. They have a great pitcher that definitely gave us some trouble for a few innings. I think she’s a big reason why they’re here, and they just play solid softball,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I like how our team fought. I liked how they continued to battle throughout the game. I think as soon as LIU scored we were able to answer right back. I thought we had some big at‐bats throughout the game. I really liked the way we battled and fought the entire game.”
The Tigers were led at the plate by senior Sandra Simmons who went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and three runs scored in the win. Simmons tied the individual program record for hits in an NCAA tournament game, runs scored and triples.
“I was just going into the game trying to lead the team,” Simmons said. “I was really just trying to get pitches I could hit. I don’t try to think about getting on base or anything like that, but more of trying to stay with the plan our coaches have for us. The coaches have done a god job of recognizing pitchers’ sequences, and we’re just trying to stay within that.”
Bailey Landry was 3-for-4 with a triple, RBI and a run scored as she and Simmons are two of just 12 players in LSU history to have a triple in an NCAA contest. Constance Quinn was the final player to have multiple hits, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.
“I thought we were really prepared for their pitchers,” Landry said. “You know it’s easier to get hits when the team is doing so well and everyone is focused in the same way.”
Sydney Smith started the contest in the circle for LSU lasting 3.1 innings before Carley Hoover (19-7) came on in relief and allowed just two hits in 2.2 innings of work to earn the win. Smith and Hoover combined for nine strikeouts Friday, as LIU up until the fourth had been held off the board and with only a single hit in the contest.
Erynn Sobieski (19-18) suffered the loss for the Blackbirds allowing nine runs, seven earned, on 13 hits with two walks and two strikeouts in five innings, as Tallie Woodson allowed a run on two hits in relief. Whitney West had two of LIU’s five hits, going 2-for-3 while Angie Vazquez and Kayla Gloady had an RBI each.
After LIU Brooklyn left two on in the opening frame of the contest, the Tigers came back and got a double off the wall in left from Simmons to open the game. Landry legged out an infield single to put LSU runners at the corners, as Bianka Bell drew a walk to load the bases. After a strikeout, Kellsi Kloss grounded out to second, allowing Simmons to score to make it 1-0 LSU.
With an out in the bottom of the third, Kloss reached on an error as after a foul out Quinn singled up the middle as Kloss moved to third and Quinn to second on the throw back in from the outfield. Another error in the infield allowed Kloss to score giving LSU a 2-0 lead over the Blackbirds.
In the top of the fourth, a walk and infield single put two LIU Brooklyn runners on, as Smith got a strikeout but not before a double off the wall in left brought in a run and ended Smith’s day as Hoover came on in a 2-1 game with runners at second and third. Hoover got a strikeout for the second out, but an infield single scored another LIU run to tie the game at 2-2.
Simmons came through with a triple to right center to open the bottom half of the frame, as after an infield grounder Bell dropped a single down the left field line to score Simmons to give LSU the lead back at 3-2. Sahvanna Jaquish came through next and smashed a double to the gap in left center to extend the lead to 4-2.
Allie Walljasper made use of the first pitch of her at-bat in the bottom of the fifth, smoking it to the terrace in left field to make it a 5-2 LSU lead.
Simmons skied a double to right to open the bottom of the sixth, as it was followed by a Landry triple to left center to give the Tigers a 6-2 lead. A fielding error allowed Landry to score from third to make it a 7-2 LSU advantage.
After a walk to put two on, a failed force out on a fielder’s choice loaded the bases for LSU setting the stage for Elyse Thornhill, who came in to play defense in the top half of the inning, singled through the left side to drive in two to put LSU on the brink, saving it for Quinn who singled to left to bring in the game-closing run at 10-2.
LSU advances to the winner’s bracket game and will take on McNeese State at noon Saturday afternoon at Tiger Park. McNeese defeated Arizona State in the first game of the day 5-2, as the Sun Devils will take on LIU Brooklyn in the elimination game which follows at 3 p.m.
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.