Beth Torina watched the final two-plus innings from the coaches’ area of the clubhouse.
The umpire ejected LSU’s softball coach in the top of the sixth inning after Texas Tech added an insurance run on what was ruled a wild pitch. Torina and her battery disagreed, claiming the ball had been foul-tipped.
“I thought it was a foul ball, and the umpire disagreed with me,” Torina said of her ejection. “It’s not something that I’m proud of — the way I argued it or what happened. But I think it’s part of the game. I just saw something different than he did.”
That controversial call gave the Red Raiders a 2-0 advantage and seemingly broke the Tigers’ spirits. But about 30 minutes later, the only thing broken in Tiger Park was the chair upon which Torina stood to see junior catcher Sahvanna Jaquish’s game-tying, two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The coach was already on her way down to the field when junior right fielder Bailey Landry smacked a game-winning homer one inning later. LSU rallied for a 3-2 win against Texas Tech on Saturday night after opening the day with a 9-1, mercy-rule victory against Illinois State.
“It’s good early in the season to see that we have some guts,” Landry said. “We were able to fight and learn how to do that as a team together.”
LSU 9, ILLINOIS STATE 1: LSU (12-2) opened its doubleheader by continuing a troubling trend.
Sophomore pitcher Baylee Corbello (3-0) gave up two one-out singles in the first inning but seemed poised to escape unscathed when she induced a dribbler to third base. Jaquish, however, mishandled the grounder, spotting the Redbirds (3-10) an early lead after doing so in a 10-2 win Friday night.
The Tigers didn’t wait long to respond. Sophomore second baseman Constance Quinn collected the first of her four hits against Illinois State to lead off the bottom half of the frame, and seniors Bianka Bell and Kellsi Kloss later drew a pair of two-outs walks to load the bases.
Redbirds second baseman Riley Hale mishandled junior center fielder Bailey Landry’s hard-hit grounder in the next at-bat, allowing Quinn to tie the game. LSU finished the inning with a 2-1 lead after freshman Shemiah Sanchez was plunked with the bases loaded.
Corbello then retired 10 straight batters, highlighted by striking out the side in the fourth inning. She worked her way out of a fifth-inning, bases-loaded jam to close her four-hit shutout.
“Coach called great pitches, Kloss caught a great game and my team played great defense,” Corbello said. “And you know the offense is always going to come through.”
It sure did.
The Tigers struck for seven runs during the fourth and fifth innings, aided by three errors and a wild pitch. Jaquish reignited her cold bat with a three-run home run and game-winning, two-RBI double in consecutive innings.
LSU 3, TEXAS TECH 2: Jaquish couldn’t deny it — her second home run of the day was sweeter than the first one.
She stepped to the plate representing the final out for LSU, which stayed alive on sophomore center fielder Emily Griggs’ single in the previous at-bat. Jaquish took the 1-0 offering for a ride to left-center, sending the crowd into a frenzy and waking the offense from its nearly seven-inning slumber.
“She went up and we were like, ‘We’re still in it. We’re not about to lose,’ ” Corbello said. “We have that type of confidence (in her) at any given time.”
Before Jaquish’s heroic homer, the Tigers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight baserunners in a tight pitcher’s duel. Sophomore pitcher Allie Walljasper (3-2) allowed the Red Raiders (5-9) to take a first-inning lead, but only because of yet another early error.
She cruised until the sixth inning when she allowed a one-out triple to left fielder Kiani Ramsey, who scored the controversial run moments later.
“It was frustrating, but I had trust in my teammates,” Walljasper said of the call at home plate. “I believed they were going to come through for me, and they did.”
The sophomore gave up two hits in the top of the eighth inning but induced a swinging strikeout to turn it back over to the offense. Landry hit the game-winning home run two pitches into the bottom half of the inning, completing LSU’s improbable rally.
“It was a really exciting end to the game. It was awesome the way our team rallied,” Torina said. “It was nice to see them have hope down to their last out. It takes 21 outs to beat us, and I think we proved that tonight.”