From LSU Sports
BATON ROUGE – The No. 11 LSU softball team was handed a 6-1 defeat by No. 12 Missouri during Friday's series opener as 1,490 fans gathered at Tiger Park.
Missouri (25-6, 10-5 SEC) rode two-time All-American hurler Chelsea Thomas to a complete game effort in the circle. The senior right-hander picked up 13 strikeouts and fanned a batter in each of her seven innings of work. She limited LSU's offense to one run on two hits.
"She (Chelsea Thomas) did a really good job," head coach Beth Torina said. "She threw strikes early and worked ahead. She was impressive tonight. We had some good at-bats during the middle of the game. Bianka (Bell) squared one up and hit it pretty hard. I didn't think we had quality at-bats throughout the entire game. She (Thomas) was really good. I don't think we did a good job taking the pitches out of the zone and swinging at pitches in the zone."
LSU (36-10, 11-5 SEC) has dropped the series opener in back-to-back weeks, but the Tigers remained in sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division after Alabama was handed a 3-2 setback by Mississippi State.
For LSU, Rachele Fico was tagged with the loss and dropped to 22-8 on the season. She was touched up for six runs, three earned, on nine hits. The Connecticut native issued six walks versus three strikeouts.
"I just need to throw better pitches earlier in the count," Fico said. "I need to trust my pitches and trust what is being called. I need to hit my spots. I think this team is capable of so much more. We are a better team than how we played tonight. I know we will bounce back. We are a resilient group. I have all the faith in the world in our team, and we will come back fighting tomorrow."
Missouri grabbed a 1-0 edge in the third inning. With two outs, the Tigers pieced together a pair of singles and a walk to fill the bases. Kelsea Roth was hit-by-a-pitch to force home the game's first run.
LSU evened the ledger at 1-1 during the fourth inning. Jacee Blades chopped an infield single and advanced to third base as Bianka Bell ripped a double down the left field line on a 0-2 offering. Two batters later, Blades sprinted home with the equalizer on a Sandra Simmons' ground ball.
Missouri fired back and regained a 3-1 advantage in the fifth inning. Nicole Hudson opened the frame with an infield single on a slow roller to the shortstop. She raced around the bases with the go-ahead run on Angela Randazzo's RBI double that dropped in just past the diving A.J. Andrews in right centerfield. Roth tacked on a RBI single to give Mizzou a two-run edge.
Missouri added three more runs during the sixth inning. With bases loaded and two outs, Corrin Genovese lifted a fly ball to left centerfield. Blades was unable to make the catch, and the ball kicked away to clear the bases and give Missouri its winning margin of 6-1.
Thomas sat down the first eight batters she faced fueled by six Ks. After the Bell double, Thomas retired the final 12 LSU hitters courtesy of seven strikeouts.
"Our kids are definitely mentally tough," Torina said. "They will be able to bounce back from it. I thought they played a real timid game tonight, and I thought they were a little too passive. I think they had too much built up about this game. Hopefully, they will come out and be themselves the rest of this weekend."
Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 6 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live stats at www.LSUsports.net/livestats along with live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsusoftball on Twitter.