GAINESVILLE, Fla. — White T-shirts covered LSU’s gold softball jerseys as the players warmed up before Sunday’s rubber game against No. 1 Florida on Sunday.
The word “ONE” was printed on all of them.
“We know that not one of us can do it on our own. The power of one,” Tigers right fielder Bailey Landry explained. “We are 20 individuals working hard together as one. That’s our theme this year.”
After No. 3 LSU’s convincing 10-3 victory over the defending national champions Sunday to take the weekend series, “ONE” could take on a whole new meaning.
LSU could be the No. 1 team when the updated national rankings are released this week.
“I truly feel like this team didn’t fall into this spot,” coach Beth Torina said. “They earned and climbed their way into this spot, and that is the mentality we need to remember.”
On Sunday, the Tigers (27-1, 5-1 Southeastern) exhibited their resiliency again by climbing out of a 3-0 hole. LSU scored 10 unanswered runs and kept the Gators (28-2, 1-2) scoreless in all but one inning.
Bianka Bell’s three-hit, five-RBI day and Kelsee Selman’s complete game (with 11 strikeouts) played a huge part in the Tigers’ first series win over Florida since 2006.
Bell, a Tampa native who wasn’t recruited heavily by the Gators, broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning with a three-run homer that could have landed in Jacksonville. It was the ninth of the season for LSU’s career home run leader. An inning later, she scorched a two-run double down the third-base line as the Tigers continued to pile on.
Bell was 13-for-15 in the series — an .867 batting average.
“No. No,” Torina said in disbelief when told Bell’s average. “I’ve known what a special player she was since the day (the school) got her. We needed Bianka to know what a special player she was and have that mentality. Now that she is there, she is able to show what she is capable of.”
When Bell was asked about her past three games, she talked about being selfless, the team being one unit.
“I’m not worried about myself,” she said. “I’m worried about passing the bat to Sahvanna (Jaquish), Kellsi (Kloss) and Sandra (Simmons) behind me. Not worrying about myself and just doing my job — that’s been working for me.”
Bell’s play overshadowed a great outing by Selman. The sophomore improved to 6-0, and her 11 strikeouts were a season high. She kept the heart of the Gators lineup in check.
Florida’s No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 hitters — Lauren Haeger, Bailey Castro and Taylore Fuller, who had three home runs Saturday — were hitless in eight plate appearances and struck out four times.
Going into the series, Florida’s pitching staff had the second-lowest ERA in the nation at 0.76. By finishing the series with 27 runs, 36 hits and two huge wins, the Tigers know the country will be gunning for them now.
“It puts a target on us, but we like it,” Selman said. “Now we are ready for anything. We know we can do it. We proved something.”
LSU hosts Nicholls State on Tuesday before Oklahoma visits on Friday and Saturday.