LSU softball team opens with sweep of Memphis, Eastern Illinois _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU coach Beth Torina greets A.J. Andrews on third base during Friday's season opener against Memphis at Tiger Park.

Whether it was at the plate or in the circle, LSU was stellar in its opening-day doubleheader Friday, defeating Memphis and Eastern Illinois on the first evening of the Tiger Classic.

A late offensive outburst was the deciding factor in a 7-2 victory against Memphis in LSU’s first game.

Early on, Memphis wasn’t looking to bow down to the hometown crowd at Tiger Park.

Memphis struck first in the top of the second inning as Sami Jo Schulz laced a two-RBI single to left field against LSU sophomore starter Baylee Corbello (1-0).

LSU only muster one run through the first five innings, coming on an RBI infield single by junior Bianka Bell.

Then came the bottom of the sixth.

After a leadoff single by Landry, Bell launched a two-run homer over the left-field wall, giving LSU its first lead.

“It was a pitch middle-in, and I had (hitting coach Howard) Dobson in the dugout helping me out,” Bell said. “I was just relaxing and ready to hit the ball, and it got out.”

And the hits just kept coming. Junior Sandra Simmons, freshman Allie Walljasper, sophomore Constance Quinn and freshman Emily Griggs all picked up hits in the sixth, leading to a five-run rally and a 7-2 lead.

The Tigers entered the seventh leading 7-2, and Corbello retired Memphis in order — with help from senior center fielder A.J. Andrews, who recorded the final out by robbing a home run — to give LSU its first victory of the season.

Corbello tossed seven innings, allowing four hits and one earned run while recording eight strikeouts.

“It was exciting knowing that I did get into some full counts, and I was confident going in,” Corbello said. “I’m really trusting my pitches this year and focusing.”

The Tigers weren’t looking to fall behind early in their second game against Eastern Illinois.

In the bottom of the first, Andrews led off the inning with triple. Two batters later, Bell lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to give LSU a 1-0 lead.

Simmons added an RBI triple in the bottom of the third, and Andrews scored on a passed ball one inning later to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. LSU tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of RBI singles by junior Kellsi Kloss and junior Alayna Falcon.

That was more than enough support for redshirt freshman pitcher Carley Hoover (1-0).

The Stanford transfer was lights-out in her first start for the Tigers, throwing seven innings and allowing one earned run on four hits. She struck out 10 in the Tigers’ 6-1 victory.

LSU coach Beth Torina said her pitchers’ performances on Friday were expected.

“We’re going to be really deep on the mound,” Torina said. “It’s nice to see both of them have seven-inning performances.”

Andrews said Friday was only the beginning of the squad’s journey to a title.

“We do a countdown to (the national championship),” Andrews said. “Today is Day 30. Tomorrow is Day 31. The fact that we started off so good today is just going to be something that we want to build on.”