With two outs in the top of the seventh inning and her team holding a comfortable five-run lead, LSU softball coach Beth Torina had a sinking feeling that Ole Miss wouldn’t go down without a fight.
LSU pitcher Baylee Corbello had suppressed the Rebels’ bats all night but, for just a moment, she let herself relax in the circle.
Unfortunately for Corbello and the Tigers, she did so with reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Allison Brown at the plate, and Torina’s sinking feeling became a sharp reality.
The Tigers eventually pulled out a 5-2 victory, but not before Brown could tarnish what would otherwise have been one of Corbello’s better showings of the season with a two-run homer to left.
LSU put the finishing touches on the opening game of the series during the next at-bat.
“The fans were standing up clapping and I was saying, ‘There’s no way this kid is striking out,’ ” Torina said. “Our kids were in a good spot. They were up five, so I think they were comfortable. Of course we’d like to have that pitch over again and not do it.”
Corbello said she could feel herself relaxing during Brown’s at-bat as the game was coming to a close — which served as a reminder that she can’t allow herself to take any pitch off.
Behind a commanding changeup, the Tigers ace finished with nine strikeouts, four hits and no walks for her ninth win of the season.
The late homer was just the icing on the cake for what junior shortstop Bianka Bell called a flat performance, despite the Tigers registering 12 hits.
LSU will try to respond with more energy Saturday when the teams conclude the series with a doubleheader. First pitch at Tiger Park is set for 2 p.m.
The usually explosive LSU offense never scored more than a run in any inning, which Bell attributed to a lack of spark entering the game.
“We just kind of ran ourselves out of innings at times and didn’t do a real good job of running the bases,” Bell said. “We know we were really flat. Every inning we have to be up.”
Even with the flat opening, it only took LSU four batters to produce what would become the winning run.
Third baseman Sahvanna Jaquish hit a ground-ball single up the middle in the first inning that was good enough for leadoff hitter A.J. Andrews to score.
Bell led the way offensively for the Tigers with two runs on two hits, including her team-leading 14th double of the season.
“I wanted a little more from them,” Torina said. “It was a good win; I’m happy to have the win. But I thought there were some things we could have done better to set up the series a little better.
“We could have done a better job at trying to get to their starter a little more, maybe see another arm just to set us up for the weekend.”