By: Clyde Verdin - firstname.lastname@example.org
After seeing the Ole Miss Rebels score more runs in one inning than they had in two previous games, the LSU softball team did seven better by scoring 10 runs in a lengthy top of the second to cruise to a 13-4 win in five innings to earn the sweep Sunday afternoon at the Ole Miss Softball complex in Oxford.
After taking a 1-0 lead after the first inning, things looked to go south for the Tigers (31-20, 11-10 SEC) quickly as the Rebels (22-28, 3-28) scored three runs to take their first lead of the series to change the dynamic quickly. Instead, after battling through adverse conditions and a rain delay, LSU scored 10 runs on just three hits, receiving seven walks of their eight total walks in the inning alone to jump out to a lead it would never relinquish to earn the sweep and clinch a berth in the conference tournament in two weeks.
Six different Tigers earned a hit on the day, but the two biggest came in the second from the bench in Kailey McCasland and Alayna Falcon. In a big pinch-hit scenario, McCasland earned her first and only hit of the afternoon to give LSU the lead back with the bases loaded and brought in two, while the younger Falcon drove in two on her only hit of the day, while a third run came in on the same play after an error in the outfield to put the team up big.
Kellsi Kloss smacked her ninth home run of the season and had two RBI with two runs scored, as Sahvanna Jaquish extended her hitting streak to seven games in going 1-for -3 with a double, 2 RBI and a run scored. A.J. Andrews stole three bases for the second time this week and went 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored, as Allison Falcon went 1-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored.
LSU starter Ashley Czechner earned her 11th win of the season and had her second five-inning start of the series in allowing four runs, two earned, on five this with a walk and a strikeout on just 75 pitches to earn her second win of the weekend.
After holding LSU in check in a relief effort on Saturday, Ole Miss starter Emily Gaitan took the loss and fell to 4-7 on the season after giving up eight runs, only three earned, on two hits with a strikeout and five walks in 1.2 innings of work. Carly Hummel, Friday's starter, came on and pitched the final 3.1 innings and gave up five runs, two earned, on four hits with three walks and a strikeout.
Rebel second baseman Alyssa Invergo went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while designated player Natalie Nimmo drove in two runs.
Andrews opened the weekend for the second time with a hit as she singled to right to take first. Andrews stole second, as Jacee Blades was hit to put two on for the Tigers. In a bold move, both took off for the next base and slid in safely as Andrews stole her second of the inning and Blades her first to get into scoring position. Jaquish hit a fly ball deep enough to center to score Andrews from third to give LSU an early 1-0 lead.
Things just as quickly turned sour for the Tigers as in the bottom half of the inning, the Rebels stormed back to get three runs in the frame to take their first lead of the series to go up 3-1. With the bases loaded with one out after a hit batter, single and error, a single to left drove in one, with a fielder's choice and passed ball bringing in the other two.
Sandra Simmons drew a walk to take first, but was quickly put out at second on a fielder's choice by Allison Falcon for the first out. Tammy Wray hit a chopper to second that was misplayed and allowed both to be safe to put two on for the Tigers. The two advanced a base to get into scoring position after a passed ball, as Bailey Landry drew a walk to load the bases.
Andrews was a recipient of another walk to bring in Allison Falcon to make it 3-2 and keep the bases loaded with McCasland coming on to pinch hit. The junior came through big with a high-chopping single down the left field line to score Wray and Landry to put LSU back on top 4-3 with two still on base. A fielder's choice forced out Andrews at third to keep two on, as Bianka Bell walked to re-load the bases.
After the delay, Kloss was walked to bring in another to make it 5-3, prompting an Ole Miss pitching change. Nothing changed as Simmons earned a walk to score Jaquish to make it 6-2 Tigers, as Allison Falcon connected on a single to center to score Kloss and Bell to make it 8-3, advancing Simmons to third and moving to second on the throw in.
Wray drew a walk to re-load the bases for the Tigers and that proved to be costly as pinch hitter Alayna Falcon struck the biggest blow of the inning knocking a single to left scoring Simmons and Allison Falcon, while Wray came in on an error in the outfield to make the score 11-3 for the tenth run of the inning.
After Ole Miss got a run back in the bottom of the third, Kloss immediately pounced back as she took the opening pitch of the inning clear over the fence in left center for the solo home run to make it 12-4 Tigers. LSU got another insurance run in the top of the fifth, as Andrews was walked, stealing second before being brought in by Jaquish's double to make it 13-4 Tigers.