The 10th-ranked LSU softball team earned its 10th win of the season in broken record fashion against Nicholls State on Sunday to close out a five-win weekend in the Purple & Gold Challenge at Tiger Park.
Like it has done several times this young season, LSU struck first and coasted to a win on the strength of dominant pitching, this time in a 1-0 win against the Colonels (4-5).
Nicholls State managed to get just two runners in scoring position against LSU junior right-hander Meghan Patterson (3-1), who fired her third complete game and completed LSU’s sixth shutout this season.
“Luckily, we got a great pitching performance out of Meghan Patterson today,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “She’s been so solid for us, I think her coming out and getting the final win of the tournament for us is fitting.”
“Of course, we want more out of our offense, but we’ll take our five wins, and we’ll call it a good weekend.”
LSU’s lone run came in the first inning, the eighth time LSU (10-1) has scored in the first inning this season.
The Tigers have outscored the opposition 18-0 in the first inning.
Junior infielder Allison Falcon started the first-inning party when she ripped a two-out double over the leftfielder’s head.
Of Falcon’s 12 hits this season, six have gone for extra bases.
After freshman infielder Bianka Bell drew a walk, junior Tammy Wray pulled a 1-2 pitch into left field to score Falcon for her team-leading ninth RBI.
“I knew that all I had to do was hit something fair,” Wray said. “Falcon’s fast enough to where I knew she’d be able to score on it. I just pulled the pitch — I got a little jammed — but it fell in and it worked out.”
Nicholls State pitcher Ashton Bennett (3-2) settled down from there, retiring 15 of the final 17 batters she faced. She limited LSU to five hits in six innings.
Torina chalked Bennett’s effectiveness up to her pitch selection, which varied from the type of pitches LSU had seen all weekend.
“She threw drop balls. She was down in the zone more than we’ve seen all weekend,” Torina said. “Everything else we saw was up in the zone. So we were a little bit unprepared for that because we’d focused so much on the upper half of the zone.”
Bennett was good, but Patterson was better, racking up eight strikeouts without issuing a walk.
“I had a good mix of pitches. I had the high and the low stuff today,” Patterson said. “They got a couple little hits, but our defense held them to it.”
Patterson lowered her season ERA to 1.06 in the contest.
The Tigers’ one-two punch of Patterson and senior Rachele Fico have combined to win nine games this season while allowing just six earned runs in 63 combined innings.
The 10-1 start is the Tigers’ best since the 2011 season, but they’re not entirely satisfied. Not yet.
“That one loss that we had, we really should’ve won that game,” Patterson said. “But 10-1 is still awesome to open up the season.”