She may have been the first LSU softball coach in program history to win a game as the No. 1 team in the country, but Beth Torina was the last person celebrating Tuesday night.
LSU eventually defeated Nicholls State 6-1, but for the better part of five innings the Tigers struggled to take the lead against a revved-up Nicholls State team, prompting Torina to demand a better performance out of her team moving forward.
Torina said the game being sandwiched between a road series against then-No. 1 Florida this past weekend and No. 6 Oklahoma at home this weekend was ultimately detrimental to the team’s preparation for Nicholls.
“We probably weren’t as prepared as we could have been, and I’ll take the blame for that,” said Torina, whose team earned its first-ever No. 1 national ranking earlier in the day. “They just have to get up and act the same way no matter who it is against us.”
Through the first four innings, the typically hot LSU bats were all but silenced by Nicholls junior pitcher Hannah Haydel, who limited the top-ranked Tigers (28-1) to only four hits and a lone run as the Colonels (16-9) maintained a 1-1 score heading into the fifth inning.
It wasn’t until LSU junior shortstop Bianka Bell stepped to the plate with two outs in the fifth inning that the Tigers were finally able garner a lead. Bell continued her blistering offensive streak — 14 consecutive times she’s reached base safely after Tuesday night — with a two-run single to left field.
Bell finished the night with the second four-hit game of her career as she went 4-for-4 with four RBIs against the Colonels, pushing her batting average to a team-high .563 for the season.
“This might be the first time in my career where I feel like I’m doing well,” Bell said. “It’s all because we’ve been focused on quality at-bats and not worrying about yourself and just trying to make things happen in the box.”
The only runs for LSU to not stem from a Bell hit came in the sixth inning when senior center fielder A.J. Andrews hit a sacrifice fly to right field to push Constance Quinn across the plate while simultaneously setting up Emily Griggs to steal home on a wild pitch during the next at-bat.
Defensively, sophomore pitcher Baylee Corbello provided her usual strong performance, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out sixs.
Corbello said Nicholls’ run in the third inning on Denham Springs-native Brooke Morris’ RBI single up the middle was a wake-up call for the Tigers.
“It’s tough getting up for a midweek game, but you have to play each opponent like they’re ranked No. 1,” Corbello said. “We realized we couldn’t just be blah today.”
Whereas Torina and the Tigers were less-than-enthused with their performance Tuesday night, Nicholls coach Angel Santiago said he couldn’t be more proud of his program, despite falling apart at the end.
“Our team played loose the whole time,” Santiago said. “If they struck out, they struck out trying because they were confident while they were trying. I was pretty proud of the attitude, in general, because they really wanted to give it a shot in this game.”