BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Information Provided by LSU Athletics
Hoping to find the magic that helped send them to the 2015 Women's College World Series in the first place, the No. 8 LSU softball team faced the tall order of needing to defeat the Michigan Wolverines twice on Sunday in the tournament semifinals, and started out putting the Big Ten opposition on the ropes early before a three-run inning in the bottom of the sixth broke a 3-all tie ending the team's season with a 6-3 loss Sunday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field.
The back-and-forth affair by both sides made for a thrilling contest between two of the final four teams left playing in the nation on Sunday, as the Tigers (52-14) earned the lead twice, only to see the Wolverines (59-6) come back to knot the game in either the same or next half inning before Michigan scored the three runs it needed to take its only lead in the sixth and hold on for the win.
Junior infielder Sandra Simmons led LSU at the plate offensively, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, accounting for a pair of the team's six hits in the contest, while Bailey Landry was the only player to drive in multiple RBIs, and going 1-for-4 to drive in two on a double.
Pitching a bulk of the postseason innings, freshman Carley Hoover (18-7) suffered the loss as she pitched 5.1 innings and allowed six runs, five earned, on eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts, as Allie Walljasper came on in relief and pitched 0.2 innings with a strikeout.
Michigan's Megan Betsa started the game for the Wolverines, but it was Haylie Wagner (24-2) earning the win by pitching the final 3.1 innings of the game and allowing just two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Betsa and Wagner combined to strikeout 10 LSU batters on the day, as Betsa allowed three runs on four hits in 3.2 innings.
Lindsay Montemarano went 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored, while Sierra Lawrence drove in two runs to lead Michigan at the plate offensively. Michigan finished the day with eight hits as a group, coming from just five players.
After both pitchers locked in on the opposing sides after the first inning, LSU started to find its rhythm as with an out in the top of the second Kellsi Kloss drew a walk to take first. Simmons followed up with a slow dribbler past second base to put runners at the corners, which allowed Constance Quinn to bring in the LSU catcher with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 1-0.
LSU needed to get out of a jam quickly, as in the bottom half of that same scoring inning for the Tigers, a walk put a runner on for the Wolverines. A fielder's choice with the force out at second was the first out, but a single to left put two on for Michigan. A popup to second put the designated home team on the brink, but a wild pitch left a base open which was soon filled with a walk. Fortunately, a fly out to left ended the threat.
With two outs in the top of the third, Bianka Bell reached on an error and Sahvanna Jaquish was plunked to put two on for LSU looking to start another two-out rally, but a grounder to first ended the inning.
One swing of the bat tied the game in the bottom of the third, as Sierra Romero lifted one high down the left field line that cleared the fence for the solo home run making it a 1-1 game.
A bunt single by Simmons put the lead runner on base for LSU in the top of the fourth, as she stole second on a strikeout. Sydney Bourg singled up the middle and advanced to second on the throw as Simmons stayed at third on the play to put two in scoring position.
A strikeout gave the Tigers two outs, but a walk to A.J. Andrews loaded them up for Landry who drilled one into left center to drive in two to make it 3-1 LSU.
Michigan came back in the bottom half of the inning and with an out, got a double to the gap in left center to put a runner in scoring position. After a running grab at short for the second out, a single to straight center scored another Wolverine run to cut the LSU lead to 3-2. A double steal and an error on the throw to third allowed another run to cross to tie the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the sixth, Michigan started its rally with a walk, before a fielder's choice bunt grounder put out the lead runner at second for the first out. An infield single and a bloop single to center loaded the bases for the Wolverines, with a double down the left field line breaking it open to drive in two, with another run scoring on a double steal to make it 6-3.
LSU finishes third overall, earning that placing for the third time in four trips to the Women's College World Series in program history.