The LSU softball program paid tribute to former Tigers All-America pitcher Rachele Fico before its game against South Alabama on Tuesday night at Tiger Park.
Fico, who starred at LSU from 2010-13 and is in her first season as a Jaguars assistant coach, was presented with a banner that will hang in Tiger Park commemorating her many accomplishments. She received a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,263 and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Then when the real first pitch was thrown out, the hospitality came to an abrupt end.
Tigers starter Kelsee Selman (7-0) retired the first eight batters on her way to a complete game. Her teammates scored three runs in the first inning and didn’t have a scoreless inning as they prevailed by the mercy rule after holding an 8-0 lead through USA’s fifth at bat.
“Tiger Park is my home away from home,” Fico said. “It’ll always have a special place in my heart. It’s really special to know you were a part of the foundation of what this program has become.”
This is the first LSU softball team to be ranked No. 1, a spot it held for the second consecutive week Tuesday morning. The Tigers improved to 31-1 after their 14th victory by the mercy rule. LSU opens a three-game series at Kentucky on Friday. The 24th-ranked Jaguars are 21-7.
“We talked before the game and said we couldn’t show up with our Tuesday night effort, we had to have our Friday night effort,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “They did exactly what we asked them to do, and we held the momentum and kept the pressure on them.”
The Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the first with some help from USA. One-out singles by Bailey Landry, Bianka Bell and Sahvanna Jaquish produced the first run; and a stolen base, passed ball and an illegal pitch produced the next two.
The Tigers added two in the second when A.J. Andrews hit an RBI triple and went home on a wild pitch.
“When we score runs like that, it takes all the pressure off,” said Selman, who allowed two hits and one walk and struck out seven.
LSU knocked out starter Fraish Beard (4-2) when Jaquish led off the third with a walk and Kellsi Kloss followed with a double. One out later, Constance Quinn hit a two-run single against reliever Kalen McGill.
Jaquish’s two-out solo homer to right-center increased the lead to 8-0 in the fourth and set the stage for the mercy rule to come into play once Selman held the cushion through the fifth.
“They had a new pitcher, and I wanted to see what she had,” Jaquish said of McGill. “I just tried to get the barrel of the bat on the ball and hit it hard. I didn’t think it was going to get out, but it kept carrying.”
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.