Information provided by LSU Athletics
BATON ROUGE, La. – In their first game as the newly-minted No. 1 team in the country, the LSU softball team fought past a scrappy Nicholls State University squad by putting up crooked numbers late to break a 1-1 tie in a 6-1 win over the Colonels Tuesday night at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge.
LSU (28-1) started the game a bit slower than normal, watching the Colonels (16-9) take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, only to come back and score six unanswered from that point on to hold on to its spotless home winning streak in the process at 21-0 in 2015.
“I think we have to play better than we did tonight,” head coach Beth Torina said. “It's a good win and Nicholls is a much improved program. They have some nice athletes on their team, but I think we have to perform better no matter who the team is.”
The Tigers pounded out eight hits on the night to Nicholls' four, led by the hot bat of Bianka Bell who had four of them, and accounted for four of the six runs as she went 4-for-4 with a double and four RBIs. Bell had one of the five hits for extra bases LSU had in the game, as Bailey Landry, Kellsi Kloss, Emily Griggs and Kailey McCasland's only hits of the night were all doubles. A.J. Andrews had the other RBI on the night on a sacrifice fly.
Much like it has all season, LSU did some of its best damage when having two outs, earning four hits and two, two-out RBIs.
“We always think ‘two outs so what?' because anything can happen with two outs,” Bell said. “We have been scoring a lot of runs with two outs and getting runners on base with two outs. So, we might as well just find a way on base and see if there's way we can make things happen.”
Starter Baylee Corbello (7-0) earned her fifth complete-game win of the season, keeping her record unblemished by allowing just a single run on four hits with six strikeouts to just one walk. Corbello threw 81 pitches in the game, retiring the side in four of the seven innings, while working out of trouble spots to limit Nicholls to just two hits with runners on base.
“Coming off the weekend, we're all excited, but you have to play everyone like they are ranked No. 1,” Corbello said.
After earning the game's first hit in the opening frame, Kloss did one better by ripping a double to right center to put LSU's first runner in scoring position on the day. After a strikeout, Kloss moved to third on a wild pitch, but consecutive grounders to third ended the inning stranding her there.
Corbello got into some trouble in the third, giving up two hits along with a walk that Nicholls capitalized on to take a 1-0 lead over LSU before ending the inning with two runners left on base to limit the damage.
Down to their final out, Landry went deep into the count and fought through to draw a walk to take first base. She wouldn't be there long as Bell came through when needed after driving a shot to left center to plate the tying run to knot the contest at 1-1 on her second hit of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth with two outs on the board again, McCasland earned a double to right to put an LSU runner in scoring position, with Layna Savoie coming on to pinch run. An error at short on a Constance Quinn dribbler put runners at the corners, but a scoop at third and throw to first ended the inning.
Nicholls threatened again in the top of the fifth, as a hit batter and an infield single put two runners on with one out, with both stealing their respective bases to get into scoring position. Corbello got a strikeout next, with the next batter grounding out to first to end the threat.
In the bottom half of that frame, Andrews drew a leadoff walk to take first for the Tigers. Landry came through after getting a 3-0 count and going down to 3-2 before ripping a shot through the left side for the double to put two in scoring position. For the third time in the game, Bell came through with a two-RBI single to give LSU a 3-1 lead over the Colonels.
The Tigers got some insurance runs in the sixth, as after a grounder to third Quinn drew a walk to take first. Griggs laced a double to right center to put two in scoring position as Andrews connected on a sac fly to right, driving in Quinn with Griggs moving to third. Griggs eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.
Landry earned a walk, advancing to second and third on wild pitches, proving costly for the visitors as Bell connected for another single up the middle to score another to make it 6-1.
“It's a really great moment in the history of this program. I think it's something that has been earned and it's a foundation that has been laid for us by all of the great players and special teams that have come through here,” Torina said. “These girls have worked so hard for this. They didn't just fall into this spot. They truly have worked since this fall, preparing for this season and continued to push themselves. I feel like this is something that they have truly earned through the work and effort they have put in.”
LSU will be back in action this weekend, hosting a two-game set against the Oklahoma Sooners at Tiger Park on Friday and Saturday evening.
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.