Information provided by LSU Athletics
BATON ROUGE, La. – Coming off of a tough weekend on the road, the No. 2 LSU softball team returned home to Tiger Park on Tuesday, and after spotting the visitors a two-run advantage, the Tigers responded by scoring six straight runs over two innings to earn the lead and hold on to defeat the ULM Warhawks 7-3.
Hosting a team that had an RPI in the 60's and one win shy of tying their entire win total from 2014, the Tigers (33-3) had their work cut out for them against ULM (24-9) early by falling in a 2-0 hole, only to storm back and score two runs in the third to tie and four in the third to take its first and only lead of the night, while holding off a near-comeback by the Sun Belt squad in the top of the seventh to hold on for the win.
"They're a good team. They have a high RPI and they have a great record. They've beaten some people, including some SEC teams," head coach Beth Torina said. "Good teams are good not because they're talented, they're good because they fight and they continue to play throughout the game."
LSU earned seven hits on the night, paced by Bailey Landry who went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a stolen base. Landry struck when the team needed it the most, driving in the two runs to tie and then doing so again later to help put the game out of reach for LSU in the very next inning.
"We knew that we just had to come in and play our game, play LSU softball, and I knew we were going to do our jobs and get the jobs done," Landry said. "We knew that we didn't give it our best shot in Kentucky, but that we had an opportunity to come out and play today, and if we did what we practiced and played LSU softball that we'd get a victory tonight."
Sahvanna Jaquish hit her 14th home run of the season to break the tie as she went 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, as Emily Griggs earned her fourth hit in two games by going 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. The Tigers earned three walks, led by A.J. Andrews who had three of the six, as she also stole two bases, as Constance Quinn had the other as she went 1-for-3 on a double and two runs scored.
Although she didn't get the start, Carley Hoover (9-2) came in a tough spot after ULM went up with runners on base and proceeded to go to work as she fanned a career-high 11, giving up six hits and one run in 6.1 innings of work. Hoover hurled strikes on her first 14 pitches of work, finishing the game with 73 strikes on 97 pitches in relief of Kelsee Selman who pitched 0.2 innings allowing two runs on three hits.
"Coach always prepares two pitchers so even if I'm not going in I'm ready whenever I am needed," Hoover said. "Literally when the first pitch is given up I'm ready. Not starting wasn't that big of a deal because I kind of prepare myself when I'm in relief just because I need to prepare for a whole day. That is just my mentality on it."
Melanie Coyne (9-5) suffered the loss after giving up six runs, three earned, in three innings walking five. After being replaced, her relievers stifled the Tigers a bit, as Jessica Colliver allowed the home run to Jaquish in two innings, while Paige Porter followed and pitched one inning with a strikeout. The top of the order for the Warhawks combined for six of the team's nine hits on the night, led by Rochell Robert's three and Faith Bohack's two.
ULM proved to be every bit of the team the Tigers were expecting to face, as the Warhawks came out guns blazing as with an out in the very first inning, ripped consecutive doubles to left to put two in scoring position. A pop up to Kellsi Kloss in foul territory was the second out, but a hit batter and another double to right center scored two to make it 2-0 ULM early. Hoover came in at that point and got a strikeout to end the inning for the Warhawks.
After sporting the visitors two runs out of the gate, the LSU offense went to work as after a pop up to left, a walk to Landry put one on, as a fly out to right was the second out, but not before walks to Jaquish and Kloss loaded the bases for the team. However, they would stay off the board as a fly out to right ended the inning.
After a liner to third, Quinn smoked a double down the left field line to get into scoring position, as a fly out to left was the second out. Andrews earned a walk and on the play Quinn stole third to put runners at the corners for the Tigers. Andrews stole second and it was huge as Landry drilled a single up the middle of the infield to plate both knotting the game at 2-2.
In the very first pitch of the bottom of the third, the Tigers came to life as Jaquish homered to straight center to give LSU its first lead at 3-2.
"That was actually the lowest homerun I've ever done in my life and I thought it was going to stay in, but I was happy it was out," Jaquish said.
That homer sparked an LSU rally as Kloss followed up with a single through the left side to put one on for LSU. Sandra Simmons bunted with the intent to sacrifice the runner over but an error on the play put two on for LSU as a result. Kailey McCasland succeeded in putting down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners for the first out, as Quinn hit into a fielder's choice and forced out Kloss on the tag.
With two outs now on the board, Griggs connected on a single to short that started a carousel of throws and runners advancing with Simmons scoring to make it 4-2, with Quinn ending up at third and Griggs at second. A walk to Andrews loaded the bases for the Tigers, and for the second time on the night Landry dropped a single to left, driving in two to make it 6-2 LSU.
In the bottom of the sixth, Andrews earned her third walk of the night to take first, as Landry connected for her third hit on a single to right to put two on. After the third pitching change of the night for ULM, a strikeout was the first out of the frame, as after both runners moved up stealing their respective bases, Jaquish hit a deep enough fly to right to score Andrews to make it 7-2.
ULM refused to quit, as the Warhawks got three consecutive hits to plate a run to make it 7-3 in the top of the seventh. Hoover got a strikeout for the first out, but hit the next batter to load the bases for the Warhawks. Undeterred, Hoover struck out the next two to end the game and preserve the LSU win.
"The best part about this day was getting able to play at home in Tiger Park. It's great to be back. We're comfortable here, and it feels good," Torina said. "It feels like we'll be able to get back on the positive side here, and really start to get things rolling again starting at home. I think that is what's going to be really big about it. Was that our best game? Absolutely not. But is it a step in the right direction to get us back on track? I think it is."
LSU remains home and returns to SEC play this weekend, hosting the Ole Miss Rebels for a three game series beginning with game one Friday at 6 p.m. and a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. All three games will be streamed on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.