OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A three-run home run that tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the third helped lift the spirits of the No. 10 LSU softball team, but in the end the relentless offense of the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners proved to be too much as they score in all but three innings in a 7-3 victory to end LSU’s run in the 2016 Women’s College World Series.
After spotting the Sooners (55-7) three runs, a three-run blast from the bat of Sahvanna Jaquish leveled the game and put LSU (52-18) back in the hunt in the contest. Unfortunately the Tiger offense would be held in check for the rest of the contest from that point on, as Oklahoma scored three more runs in the fourth and one in the sixth to pull out ahead for good.
“Congratulations to Oklahoma, and we wish them luck. They are a very athletic team and have a lot going for them,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We have only played four games, we played about 14 games here, it feels like. I thought we gave it all we had and came up short.”
Senior Sandra Simmons was 3-for-3 in the game with a run scored, followed by Emily Griggs who was 2-for-3 with a run scored. For Jaquish it was her 13th home run of the season to finish tied with Bianka Bell for the season high on the year.
Starter Allie Walljasper pitched the first 2.1 innings, allowing three runs, one earned, on five hits, as Sydney Smith (13-4) wound up suffering the loss allowing three runs on three hits with a walk in an inning pitched. Carley Hoover pitched the final 3.2 innings and allowed just a single run on two hits with two strikeouts and five walks.
OU’s Page Parker scattered eight hits and allowed all three runs in the complete-game effort, striking out four and walking two over the course of the game. Erin Miller and Shay Knighten each had two hits and drove in two for the Sooners.
After the Sooners went down in order to open the game, LSU took to the bottom half of the inning getting an opening single from Simmons to right center. Although she would be put out on a fielder’s choice, a walk to Bell put two Tigers on. However, a fielder’s choice and a fly out ended the inning.
A throwing error for LSU to open the top of the second allowed a Sooner runner on base, but on the next play Elyse Thornhill made a running grab in left and the runner on base was called out for not tagging second before returning to first to put two outs on the board. On the next play a triple down the right field line put an OU runner back on before an infield single allowed the run to cross giving the Sooners a 1-0 lead.
A single and another LSU error allowed an Oklahoma runner to reach second to open the top of the third. A grounder to second allowed the runner to advance to third, as a grounder to second resulted in another error and the run crossed to make it 2-0. The runner on base stole second, then advanced to third on a throwing error, eventually coming in on a single to make it 3-0, as Smith came on and got two of the next three batters to go down to end the inning.
Griggs opened the bottom of the third by dropping a single to the short porch in left to reach first. Simmons was hit by a pitch to put two on, as Bailey Landry sacrificed the two over with a bunt for the first out. After a fly out to left field, Jaquish fouled off four straight pitches towards the end of her at bat before reaching out and launching one over the fence in left center for the three-run shot to tie the game at 3-3.
A walk to lead off the fourth put a Sooner runner on base, as a bunt single put two OU runners on. A sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, as a single up the middle brought in both to give Oklahoma the lead back at 5-3, as Hoover came on in relief of Smith. A walk put two on, as a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners, with a wild pitch bringing in another run to make it 6-3.
A solo home run for Oklahoma in the top of the sixth was the final run for either side on the night, as Oklahoma extended the lead to 7-3.
With an out in the final frame, Simmons singled through the right side to reach, as Landry earned a single to put two on. Unfortunately, a double play ended the game, sending OU to the championship series against Auburn Monday.
The Tigers finish the year with 52 wins, tied for the ninth-most in program history, as it’s the 11th time LSU has won 50-plus games in a season and first time since 2006 and 2007 to win 50 wins in back-to-back seasons. It’s the first time that LSU has earned consecutive trips to the Women’s College World Series and third time in the last five years LSU has ended the season in Oklahoma City.
“So, I want to say just how much I appreciate this senior class. I think the five seniors that we have had have taken a program with a lot of tradition already and it has a really great history and continued to make it better,” Torina said. “I think they set a standard for us that it's going to be really amazing for us to continue to build upon. They have truly changed the culture, and I just feel really lucky to have had these five seniors and been part of their career, but mostly been part of their lives. They're just really special people.”
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