Information provided by LSU Sports
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Hitting ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Field for the first time since June of 2012, the No. 8 LSU softball team made its return to Oklahoma City for the opening game of the 2015 Women's College World Series, earning a 6-1 win over the Auburn Tigers Thursday afternoon.
A home run in the very first inning from the bat of Bianka Bell helped ignite the LSU (51-12) offense to the tune of a program WCWS-tying 10 hits over the course of the seven-inning affair, pulling its second consecutive win over Auburn (54-10) after taking the season finale in Tiger Park earlier this month.
“Our team played a great game. I thought the best thing about the game was it was well pitched, well played, but I liked our team's fight,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I thought they scored whether we had two outs or not. They were able to score and answer to Auburn anytime they did something. I thought our team showed a lot of guts and a lot of fight.”
Bell's only hit of the day in the first was the only one she needed to break the tie she had for the home run lead, giving her the 18th long ball of the year which is now the new single-season record at LSU as she went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Tying the individual record for hits in a WCWS game was freshman Emily Griggs who went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate for LSU, followed by Constance Quinn who went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sahvanna Jaquish and Kellsi Kloss each drove in two runs to tie for the game high, as Jaquish had a double and Kloss drilled her 13th home run of the season to aid in the LSU win.
Lasting the complete game and scattering just six hits with only one run was Carley Hoover (18-5), securing the victory for LSU by tossing just 78 pitches in the win, with 59 throws for strikes. Auburn didn't score its only run of the game until the fifth, while getting out of jams late to keep Auburn at bay for much of the contest.
“I think what was really cool about today was that I personally didn't feel like I had 100 percent, I was missing a lot of middle. But our defense was so strong,” Hoover said. “We made amazing plays and our offense rallied. It always helps when we score first. Bianka's home run -- I think it's an overall good team win and like I said really strong defense.”
Marcy Harper (12-5) suffered the loss for Auburn after allowing five runs on six hits in 2.2 innings of work, striking out two and walking one. Rachael Walter pitched the 4.1 innings after, allowing a run on four hits with three strikeouts. Morgan Estell had two of Auburn's six hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
After two quick outs for the Tigers in the first, Bell stepped up to the plate and with a 2-1 count reached low for one, sending it into the bleachers in left for the solo homer and the 1-0 lead for LSU in the top of the first inning.
“With two outs just trying to get on base, find my way on, do it with two outs and just hope someone can score me in,” Bell said. “I guess I just got all of the ball and it went out but that was really cool, exciting I guess.”
The Tigers opened the second with a single by Griggs to put one on for LSU. A defensive play by Auburn resulted in a double play, putting LSU on the brink of ending the frame scoreless until a single to left by Bailey Landry put a runner back on. A walk to Bell put two on, and each would come home on a slicing double by Jaquish to right center to make it 3-0 LSU.
In the second pitch of her at-bat, Kloss lifted one down the left field line that stayed up in the air long enough to go off of the foul pole for the team's second home run of the day to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead over Auburn.
“I mean, I wasn't trying to do anything too big, I was just trying to make an adjustment for my last at-bat and try to get a little more on top of the ball. And I put a good swing on it,” Kloss said. “And I stayed inside it enough to hit the pole and it's really exciting. It kind of got me just a little more comfortable and in my zone, and I think that just set a good tone for the rest of the day and my team fed off of it which is really cool.”
Auburn put together its first real threat of the game in the bottom half of that same inning, getting two runners on after a pair of singles, eventually getting runners at the corners with the intent to score, but getting out of the jam without giving up a run to maintain its five-run advantage. Auburn scored its first run of the game in the fifth, using a double, before a sac bunt and sac fly made the score 5-1.
In the top of the sixth, a double by Quinn to right put one on for LSU, as after an out, Griggs earned her third hit of the day to put two on for the Tigers. An infield grounder by A.J. Andrews should have gotten at least one out, but an error on the throw for the force out at allowed Quinn to score to make it 6-1.
“I think the main thing on this team is everybody knows that they have a part in everything that we do. So whether you're playing shortstop or you're on the bench, we need every single person,” Griggs said. “So just everybody being 100 percent, like diving into the game and giving their all, all their energy for us. I think that really helps our energy.”
LSU returns to the field on Friday, taking on the Florida Gators at 6 p.m. at ASA Hall Of Fame Stadium – OGE Field. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins, Michelle Smith and Jessica Mendoza.
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.