Information provided by LSU Sports
BATON ROUGE, La. – Backed by home runs from Bianka Bell and Sahvanna Jaquish, and an eight-strikeout performance from Carley Hoover in the circle, the fourth-ranked LSU softball team opened Southeastern Conference play Friday night with a 6-2 win over the No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tigers (22-2, 1-0 Southeastern) pounded out 10 hits in the win over the Crimson Tide (21-3, 0-1) on the night, scoring in four of the seven frames of the contest. The two multiple run frames for the team came thanks to the home runs as Bell put LSU up with her three-run shot in the first, as Jaquish gave the team a pair of insurance runs in the fourth to say ahead in the end. The victory pushed the team's winning streak to 18.
"Every win in SEC play is huge, but getting the first one under your belt is a big deal," head coach Beth Torina said. "I think we are beginning to understand where we are as a team and that we can play with these teams. I think all of those things are really important."
Emily Griggs led all players on the night going 3-for-4, scoring a run, as Bell and Jaquish had two hits each and combined for six RBIs.
"Our coaches really prepared us well," Bell said. "We had two days of really good practice where we focused on getting on top of the rise-ball. Also staying within our zones and staying with our plan."
Hoover improved her record to 9-0 on the season and earned the complete-game effort by striking out eight and allowing two runs on two hits with no walks on just 97 pitches tossed in the contest. Hoover and the defense were able to work out of a pair of jams in key situations, holding off Alabama rallies throughout the game.
"I think me personally I thrive under pressure and it's really fun to be I the circle and be able to feed some of that energy off to my team," Hoover said. "My team was just as confident in me as I was in them. It was just a really fun spot to be in."
Alexis Osorio suffered her first loss of the season to fall to 7-1 on the year, allowing all six runs with eight strikeouts and two walks, tossing 150 pitches. Peyton Grantham and Sydney Booker combined for four of Alabama's nine hits, as Grantham had an RBI.
With the very first pitch of the LSU first, Constance Quinn got hit to put a Tiger on first as Griggs followed up with a high-chopping single down the left field line to put two on. Although she got behind in the count, Bell was able to work back and got the pitch she wanted that she drilled over the fence in dead center to put the Tigers up 3-0.
A quickly dropping single to the short porch in left center allowed an Alabama runner to get to second base, coming home after a double off the wall in left center cut LSU's lead to 3-1. The Crimson Tide would end up stranding two in scoring position by the end of the inning as the Tigers kept the visitors off of the board for the remainder of the frame.
With an out in the bottom of the second, Quinn reached out to drop a single to center to reach first. In an almost identical at-bat and result, Griggs hit another chopping single to put two on. Bell was hit to load the bases for the Tigers, as Jaquish did what she needed with an infield single to put LSU up 4-1.
"It's always great to jump on a team first," Jaquish said. "I think that it gives us a lot of momentum, and also makes us comfortable on defense for sure."
Three consecutive hits cut LSU's lead in half as Alabama was able to get another run to make it 4-2 with the Tigers on top. With runners sitting at second and third, Hoover mowed two batters down before getting the final one to ground out to the circle to end the inning with the home side still leading.
After a strikeout to open the bottom of the fourth, Bell went deep into her at-bat before ripping a single to right center. After fouling one off and taking another pitch, Jaquish left no doubt as she lifted one high into the night air to the Tiger Park Terrace for the two-run blast to put LSU up 6-2.
"I think we just worked really hard on our plan and I think it was effective," Torina said. "I think our team was very prepared. Credit goes to all of our coaches and staff that work with our offense. They did a great job. I thought our team bought into the plan, and they executed it very well."
Game two of the series is set for a 5 p.m. first pitch at Tiger Park on Saturday. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network with Jenn Hildreth and Michelle Smith calling all of the action.