The last time the LSU softball team hit the road for a super regional, it advanced to the Women’s College World Series.
That’s why coach Beth Torina isn’t overly concerned about taking her team to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to face No. 7 seed James Madison next weekend. The No. 10 seed Tigers clinched the Baton Rouge regional with a 2-0 win against Arizona State on Sunday; the Dukes moved on by beating Longwood 5-1 in their regional title game.
JMU (49-4) is second nationally with a 1.10 team ERA, anchored by Jailyn Ford (0.88) and Megan Good (0.90). According to Excelle Sports, the Dukes lead the country in defensive efficiency, which measures the number of balls in play that result in outs.
This is the second straight year LSU (48-15) has reached a super regional after it hosted Arizona last season. In 2012 — Torina’s first year with the program — the Tigers won a super regional at Missouri to advance to the WCWS.
“We’ve been on the road quite a bit this year and played well,” Torina said. “We’ve been to the College World Series coming off the road, so I don’t think we’ll play it any differently.”
Play at the plate
Just when the Sun Devils offense was finally starting to show some life Sunday, a controversial call took it all away.
After two hits and a walk produced ASU’s best threat of the day, Nikki Girard lined out to right fielder Bailey Landry for the second out of the sixth inning. Abby Spiel raced home from third base following the catch, and she appeared to slide into home plate before senior catcher Kellsi Kloss applied the tag.
But home plate umpire Dustin Douglas didn’t make a call as both Spiel and Kloss pleaded their cases. Kloss tagged Spiel again, at which point Douglas called her out to end the inning.
Douglas ruled Spiel never touched home plate, though video replays and photographs showed her hand on it. Douglas’ call prompted an animated tirade from Sun Devils’ co-interim head coach Robert Wagner, resulting in his ejection.
“It’s such a quick moment,” ASU co-interim head coach Letty Olivarez said. “Umpires make decisions, and we have to go with it.”
Olivarez said the coaching staff requested Douglas meet with the rest of his crew to discuss the play, but he declined.
Walljasper’s new skill
LSU sophomore pitcher Allie Walljasper has twice come through with late-inning home runs to help LSU rally from deficits this season.
She proved she can drop down a sacrifice bunt, too.
Walljasper laid down two sac bunts in her first two plate appearances Sunday, bringing home a run with the first one thanks to a throwing error. Those were the first and second sac bunts of her career, which has spanned 126 at-bats (78 this season).
After picking up two wins and a save this weekend, LSU sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover was named MVP of the regional.
Hoover has nine wins and four saves in LSU’s past 13 postseason victories, dating to the team’s win against Nebraska in last year’s regional. She collected all three of the Tigers’ wins at last week’s Southeastern Conference tournament.
The Tigers placed three other players on the all-tournament squad: Landry, junior catcher/infielder Sahvanna Jaquish and senior first baseman/left fielder Sandra Simmons.
The rest of the team: Arizona State’s Kelsey Kessler, Dale Ryndak and Jenn Soria; McNeese State’s Erika Piancastelli and Emily Vincent; and Long Island University Brooklyn’s Whitney West.