COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sylver Samuel’s two-run double in the ninth inning helped give seventh-seeded and 16th-ranked Kentucky a 4-3 win over No. 25 and sixth-seeded LSU in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Softball tournament on Friday.
The Tigers (35-22) tied the game at 2 on Bailey Landry’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
After a scoreless eighth, LSU got the first two outs of the inning before a walk and hit batter put two on for the Wildcats. That proved to be costly as Samuel doubled left-center to drive in two and put Kentucky back on top 4-2.
With one out in the bottom of the inning, Tammy Wray homered to left field to make it 4-3, but consecutive strikeouts ended the game and LSU’s run in the tournament.
LSU stranded seven runners to Kentucky’s eight, as the Wildcats (44-14) were held to just two hits.
“I thought Kentucky played really well today, and I have a lot of respect for their pitcher and their program,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “They did a really good job keeping us off balance throughout the game. On our side, I think we gave up too many free passes, and a lot of things we did to ourselves.”
Landry was the only Tiger with multiple, going 2-for-4. The Tigers got six hits as Wray was 1-for-3 with her third home run of the season with an RBI and run scored, while A.J. Andrews hit her sixth triple of the season in a 1-for-5 day with a run scored. Bianka Bell went 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Constance Quinn went 1-for-4 as well.
After looking shaky in the first three innings, freshman Baylee Corbello snapped her five-start winning streak, giving up four runs, (two earned), on two hits with eight strikeouts. Corbello threw 160 pitches in the game and at one point retired 16 Kentucky batters in order, but was done in by five walks and four hit batters.
“Honestly, I have to eliminate the free passes and learn to go right at batters,” Corbello said. “We didn’t gain momentum quickly enough, but I think our team did a great job of rallying and fighting through to the end.”
Kentucky’s Kelsey Nunley, who has thrown every pitch in the tournament, earned the complete-game win, giving up three runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts on 138 pitches.
The Wildcats scored first in the third inning as an error, hit batter and walk loaded the bases with one out. The first Kentucky run came via a walk to make it 1-0. A single dropped into short center to bring in another as Andrews threw out another runner at the plate to end the inning.
Andrews tripled and later scored on an error at third to make it 2-1 as Bell took first and Jaquish moved to second. After an infield popup, Simmons drew a walk to load the bases, but a grounder to short ended the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Simone Heyward scored as Landry hit a high-chopping single over third base to tie the game at 2-2.
The Tigers will now await word on a possible berth in the NCAA Regional round, which will take place next weekend at sites to be determined. Selections will be officially announced on the NCAA Selection Show, which will be televised on ESPNU at 9 p.m. Sunday night.