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COLUMBIA, Mo. – A five-run inning capped by a Sandra Simmons opposite field three-run home run in the third inning signaled the return of the No. 3 LSU softball team's powerful offense as the Tigers put up two big innings to snap its three-game losing skid with a 9-0 win over No. 15 Missouri in five innings Monday evening in Columbia.
LSU (42-9, 14-7 Southeastern) pounded out nine hits over the course of the game, two more than the team had in its first two games combined, putting up the five spot in the third and plating four more in the fifth to put Missouri (35-11, 13-8) on the brink before LSU starting pitcher Carley Hoover and the defense shut the door to earn the team's 17th run-rule victory of the season.
Simmons' shot was her second of the season for the junior, as she went 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored for LSU. Eight different Tiger batters earned at least one hit on the day, as Bianka Bell hit her 15th home run of the season in the win, with Bailey Landry, Kellsi Kloss, and Emily Griggs driving in a run, with Dylan Supak driving in two on a double.
Hoover (13-3) was dominant in the circle after taking the loss in the opener, pitching her fourth shutout of the season by scattering four hits and striking out four with one walk and needing just 90 pitches to earn the victory. Missouri stranded only five runners on the day, getting just two runners past second in the contest.
Paige Lowary (16-4) suffered the loss after allowing eight runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts, a stark contrast from the two runs given up and nine strikeouts she had in game one. Cheyenne Baxter came on in relief and gave up an unearned run on two hits with a strikeout. Emily Crane had two of Missouri's four hits, going 2-for-3.
After a Sahvanna Jaquish walk, Simmons earned LSU's first hit of the day by ripping a double off the wall in right center to put two in scoring position for the Tigers in the top of the second. Unfortunately, the two would be stranded there keeping the game scoreless.
With an out in the top of the third, A.J. Andrews scorched one low drive through the left side of the infield to the wall to trot in for the double. After advancing to third on an illegal pitch, Landry legged out an infield single to short as Andrews scored easily to give LSU a 1-0 lead.
Bell was hit to put two on for LSU, as another walk to Jaquish loaded the bases for the Tigers with just one out. Kloss lifted one down the line in right, allowing Landry to tag up from third with the other runners moving up to make it 2-0 LSU. After ripping a double in her first at-bat, she went two steps better as she skied one to left for the three-run shot to make it 5-0 LSU after three.
Taking the lead in the top half of the frame, Missouri threatened in the bottom half as a leadoff walk put one on for Missouri. After a strikeout, a single and fielding error in right put runners at second and third for the home side, but LSU locked in and an infield popup and grounder to Simmons at first ended the inning keeping Missouri scoreless.
On the first pitch in the first at-bat of the fifth, Bell wasted no time shaking off getting hit earlier in the game, unloading a vicious swing and launching one over the fence in right to give LSU a 6-0 lead. Jaquish got a hold of one and sent it to center to reach first, as Kloss ripped a shot to right center as Jaquish moved to third on the play to put runners at the corners and end Lowary's day.
Taylor Lockwood came on to pinch run, as a fly out to center allowed her to move up to second to put two in scoring position for LSU. That proved big as Supak came through lacing a double over the head of the left fielder to score both to give LSU an 8-0 lead. Layna Savoie came on to pinch run for Supak at second, and she immediately moved to third on a passed ball. Griggs came on and came through with a high-chopping single through the infield to score Savoie to make it 9-0 Tigers.
LSU returns to action on Wednesday, hosting the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at 6 p.m. in Tiger Park.