Michigan shuts out LSU in Women’s College World Series opener _lowres

Associated Press photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman LSU's Allie Walljasper, at right, celebrates with Constance Quinn against Michigan in the Women's College World Series on Friday in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY — LSU waited more than three days after arriving for the Women’s College World Series to play its first game.

After losing to second-seeded Michigan 2-0 on Friday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in a game delayed 24 hours because of rain, the 10th-seeded Tigers face the prospect of being knocked out of the double-elimination tournament in less than 24 hours.

LSU (50-17) faces Alabama, which lost to Oklahoma 3-0 in eight innings in the completion of a game suspended from Thursday, in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).

“I thought our team did some things really well, and there are some things we can do better,” Tigers coach Beth Torina said. “Our pitching did a good job and our defense did a good job, but we just couldn’t come up with the timely hit.

“Obviously their pitcher did a great job and she gets a lot of credit for their victory. They made good pitches in big moments and that’s what great teams do.”

The Wolverines (52-5) will face Oklahoma at 8:30 p.m. Saturday after Tera Blanco broke a scoreless tie with a two-run double in the sixth inning.

Blanco’s hit made a winner of Megan Betsa (28-3), who threw a four-hit shutout in outdueling Tigers starter Allie Walljasper (11-6).

“What a great game, what a great pitchers’ duel,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “What a gutsy performance by both pitchers. In a game like that when you get late in the game, you have to stay tough, and toughness is not allowing yourself to mentally go in the wrong direction.

“You can’t worry about anything. You have to stay tough in the moment, and we were outstanding at that. It came down to a timely hit.”

It also came down to Betsa, who walked two, struck out eight and threw 122 pitches but was at her most efficient at the end. She retired the last eight Tigers batters in order, three by strikeout.

“Early on it looked like they prepared for my rise more than my changeup so I used that to my advantage,” Betsa said. I kept (the changeup) low in the zone, and obviously it worked.”

Walljasper held Michigan scoreless on three hits through five innings, but she ran into trouble from the outset of the sixth.

She walked Sierra Romero leading off, and Kelly Christner followed with a slow grounder that trickled into right field for a single. Walljasper walked Kelsey Susalla, and Carley Hoover relieved.

“Before the game, the plan was that we were going to use multiple arms,” Torina said. “We wanted to keep them off balance. That seemed like the right time to go to Carley.”

Hoover fell behind 2-0, then got two strikes before Blanco hit a line drive into the right-field corner for two runs.

“I just went up there looking for something to hit and to try and get out front,” Blanco said. “I got excited when I saw it come off the bat, and I think everyone else on the team was excited, too.”

Hoover sandwiched two strikeouts around a force-out at the plate to keep the deficit at two runs through six innings.

LSU had base runners in four of the first six innings but couldn’t get an RBI hit.

The Tigers had runners on first and second with two out in the fourth, but Constance Quinn struck out.

They had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but Bailey Landry was called out when she bunted and the ball hit her in fair territory. Then Bianka Bell struck out.

The Wolverines had back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth, but Walljasper got Aidan Falk on a fly ball and Lindsay Montamarano on a grounder.

LSU won two out of three games against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference-opening series March 11-13 at Tiger Park. The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 5-3 in a WCWS elimination game last season.

“I think we’ve shown all year that we can fight,” first baseman Sandra Simmons said. “We just need to come out and play our game and not press because we’re in the losers bracket. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare for them, but we’re going to look back at the conference series and come up with a plan pretty quickly.”