The LSU softball team’s offense was inconsistent during its final four games in the Baton Rouge regional last weekend.
The Tigers, who run-ruled Texas Southern 15-0 in the opener, scored just 12 runs in the next four games, which included five extra innings.
On the eve of the Baton Rouge super regional, Arizona coach Mike Candrea said he hoped LSU’s hitters wouldn’t come charging back. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Tigers were ready to go from the start of Game 1 on Saturday afternoon at Tiger Park.
LSU run-ruled Arizona 8-0 in five innings after scoring four runs in the first and two each in the second and third. The middle third of the order drove in half the runs. Sahvanna Jaquish drove in two, and Kellsi Kloss and Sandra Simmons had one each. No. 2 hitter Bailey Landry chipped in a two-run homer, and two other runs scored on wild pitches.
The middle third took advantage of opportunities presented by the top third as A.J. Andrews walked, Landry beat out a bunt and Bianka Bell walked to start the first.
“I think they understand what their role is there at the top of the lineup: find a way on base,” coach Beth Torina said. “It doesn’t matter how you get there. Their job is to take what’s given, make the best of it and do whatever they can for the team.”
LSU took advantage of opportunities presented by Arizona’s pitching. In addition to the run-producing wild pitches, the Wildcats walked eight.
“They had a couple of key hits,” Candrea said, “and I think a lot of it was our inability to execute a game plan.”
Candrea deviated from his usual pitching strategy, going with freshman Trish Parks to start the first game instead of the usual opening-game starter, sophomore Michelle Floyd.
“I thought (Parks) had been throwing well,” Candrea said. “LSU had not yet seen her. We had thrown the other two (Floyd and Nancy Bowling) when we saw them in February. I thought we could keep the ball on the ground, and I thought her off-speed pitch would be a factor.”
Though no official announcement was made, Torina said she expects to see Floyd on Sunday. Floyd warmed up in the bullpen for a majority of the game, but Candrea turned to Siera Phillips in relief.
Saturday’s crowd of 2,559 was the largest in Tiger Park postseason history. The berm in left field was packed more than an hour before the game, and most fans relied on standing-room-only tickets to watch the action.
“We are so thankful for all of the fans who have supported us all season long that came out today and made this a tough place for Arizona to play,” Torina said to start her postgame news conference.
History favors Tigers
History is on LSU’s side after the Tigers won the series opener.
Since the super regional format was adopted in 2005, 71 of the 85 teams that won the opener went on to win the series, including the first four teams to qualify for the Women’s College World Series this year: Michigan, Tennessee, Auburn and Oregon.
Oklahoma, which beat Alabama in the first game of the Tuscaloosa super regional Friday, lost both games Saturday to the Crimson Tide.
Happy birthday, Skip
The Tigers’ victory was a nice birthday present for former LSU baseball coach and athletic director Skip Bertman. He and his wife, Sandy, were the first to congratulate Torina when she finished her postgame news conference.
Chandler Rome contributed to this report.