Freshman Carley Hoover pitched a four-hit shutout as No. 5 national seed LSU beat Arizona State 5-0 to force a winner-take-all title game at the NCAA tournament Baton Rouge softball regional Sunday afternoon at Tiger Park.
The Tigers (47-12) won their second consecutive elimination game, having beaten Nebraska 3-2 on Saturday night. The Sun Devils (36-21) lost for the first time in the regional, necessitating a rematch at approximately 3:15 p.m. Sunday. That game will air on ESPN.
The winner of that game will advance to a best-of-three super regional next weekend against the winner of the Tucson regional.
Hoover (15-5), who had lost a 1-0 decision to ASU in Saturday’s first game and saved the victory against Nebraska, struck out eight, including the side in the seventh, and walked three.
LSU led from the start, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. A.J. Andrews led off the game with a single, and Bailey Landry beat out a grounder. Two outs later, Sahvanna Jaquish hit a grounder to deep shortstop, and Chelsea Gonzales slipped before she could throw the ball, giving Jaquish an RBI single.
Andrews started another rally in the third when she led off with a walk and stole second. Landry beat out a grounder to short, and Bianka Bell singled home Andrews for a 2-0 lead.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the sixth on consecutive singles by Jaquish, Sandra Simmons and Constance Quinn.
Quinn’s hit came against reliever Dale Ryndak in the first at-bat against a Sun Devils pitcher other than Breanna Macha (18-12), who made her third consecutive start in the regional after pitching complete games in victories against Nebraska on Friday and LSU on Saturday.
A two-run double by Quinn made it 5-0 in the sixth.