Allison Falcon ripped a two-run double during the third inning to break a 1-1 tie, while Brittany Mack racked up 10 strikeouts in a complete game effort as the LSU softball team claimed a 3-1 win over Mississippi State Saturday in-front of a season-best 1,397 fans at Tiger Park.
LSU (18-8, 3-1 SEC) pushed its winning streak to 19 straight games over Mississippi State (17-11, 3-6 SEC) dating back to the 2005 season. Prior to first pitch, the Tigers honored 18 Alumnae as part of Alumnae Weekend at the ballpark.
Mack won her fifth consecutive decision to improve to 8-4 on the season. She maneuvered around eight hits, two walks and stranded six of 10 Bulldog baserunners in scoring position. The senior right-hander also notched her third double-digit strikeout performance of the season.
Stephanie Becker was handed the loss and tagged for three runs on five hits. She came away with six strikeouts against one walk, but dropped to 9-4 for the season.
"This was a huge game for us today, just in this series and in this season," head coach Beth Torina said. "I think that Mississippi State is really improved, so I think that winning the series is key to our success in the SEC. They fought hard, and I knew we were going to get a tougher pitcher [Becker] on the mound today. I knew this game was going to be a little more of a challenge, and it was. I'm really happy that we came away with it."
Trailing 1-0, the third inning was kind to the Tigers for the second straight contest. Lauren Houston was hit-by-a-pitch to open the frame. Two batters later, Ashley Applegate cranked a single to centerfield. LSU loaded the bases when Jacee Blades dropped down a textbook bunt single down the first base line.
A passed ball by MSU catcher Ka'ili Smith enabled Houston to scamper home and knot the score at 1-1. Down 0-2 in the count, Falcon battled to extend her at-bat by fouling off a quartet of pitches and taking a ball. Falcon's hard work paid immediate dividends as she smoked a double past the diving attempt of Bulldog left fielder Jessica Cooley. The ball one-hopped off the left field wall which cleared the bases to give LSU a 3-1 advantage.
"She had been working me outside, and I was just waiting for that inside pitch," Falcon said. "She called time and her coach came and talked to her, so it was a lot of different things going on. I really just had to focus on seeing the pitch that I wanted, and thankfully I did."
Mississippi State's Jessica Offutt and Smith strung together a pair of two-out singles during the sixth inning to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Mack thwarted the Bulldog rally and got Shelby Fisher to fly out to right field. She struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 seventh to secure the 3-1 win.
"She did a good job of making big pitches when she needed to," Torina said. "Even when she was behind on a few hitters, she was able to come all the way back and get a strikeout from a 3-0 count. She did a good job of making big pitches in the correct times."
Sunday's series finale is slated for 1 p.m. with live audio and live stats inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The game also will be carried live Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Kent Low set to call the action.
Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.
As part of Brittany Mack's "Geaux Play" initiative, LSU softball is encouraging fans to share the gift of sports with special needs children. Fans can donate new or gently used sports equipment during the remaining LSU softball home games at Tiger Park. For more information, visit LSUsports.net/geauxplay.
All items collected will be given directly to the Miracle League Association and six local schools that Mack will visit during the season. At LSU's series finale versus Ole Miss on April 22, Mack will invite all the children to the game as her special VIP guests for "Geaux Play" day at Tiger Park.
The Tiger Park Ticket Booth will open 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Tickets also are available online at www.LSUtix.net.
Season ticket holders will have their tickets scanned upon entrance to Tiger Park. The LSU Athletics Ticket Office urges season ticket holders to be cautious when separating their bar-coded tickets. The barcode must be attached to the ticket when arriving at the gate. If the barcode detaches, season ticket holders must stop by the LSU Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Administration Building for a reprint of their tickets.