Home runs power LSU to victory over Oklahoma
BATON ROUGE, La. - A day after combining for just four hits and one run, the fans in Tiger Park on Saturday saw the sticks at work in a big way, as the No. 1 LSU softball team exploded for 10 runs on 10 hits to blow past the visiting No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners 10-2 in six innings Saturday afternoon at Tiger Park to take both games of the series.
Of the 15 total hits by both sides on the day, six were of the home run variety, as LSU (30-1) tied its season high for home runs in a single game with four on the afternoon for the second time this season. Seven of nine total batters for the Tigers earned hits, with seven hits coming in the last two innings alone.
"The great thing about today was we were able to make so many adjustments throughout their entire pitching staff, which I really liked to see," head coach Beth Torina said. "We got to see their lefty (Paige Parker) again today, and we were able to make a good adjustment on her. She's very talented. The fact that we saw as many innings off of her as we did is going to make us better as we continue through this season."
For just the second time this season, an LSU player went yard twice in the same game, as Bianka Bell capped another solid weekend with two home runs as she finished the day 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored with an intentional walk. It was the first multi-home run of the year for the junior, and first since Sahvanna Jaquish had two against Central Arkansas earlier this season, to help give LSU a lead it wouldn't relinquish with her three-run bomb in the very first inning to set the tone.
"Definitely. Just getting the runners on base was really key to that," Bell said. "We knew that Kelsey Stevens was kind of struggling, so I was just looking to try to make her come down the zone or down the middle."
Bell was one of three players to have a home run among multiple hits for the Tigers, as the other two players with home runs also matched that feat as Jaquish went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored with a solo shot and Kellsi Kloss also going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored with a solo bomb of her own.
"It felt awesome. I felt like we made an adjustment very early on into the game that helped us today," Jaquish said. "The adjustment was just swinging at the hard pitches instead of just swinging at the pitches. Swinging at our strengths, that's what helped us in our bats."
In her first outing since last weekend, LSU starter Allie Walljasper kept her record spotless in the circle as she held the Sooners (24-5) to just two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and three walks in her eighth complete game victory of the year. The two runs came only on solo home runs for Oklahoma in the second and fourth, but the visitors ended the day stranding seven runners on base as she pitched her way out of some big jams to limit the damage throughout.
"I made two mistake pitches and I knew that, but other than that, coach called a very good game and she kept on us the whole time," Walljasper said. "Coach just kept calling an awesome game. She threw all my pitches and just kept the ball flying."
Kelsey Stevens (7-1) for the Sooners suffered her first loss of the season and did not record an out as she faced three batters and gave up three runs on one hit with two walks in the very first inning. After the performance by just one pitcher yesterday, OU needed three today and all struggled, including Friday starter Paige Parker who pitched 4.2 innings allowing three runs on four hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Shelby Pendley pitched the inning of the game for OU, allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits with two walks.
Nicole Pendley was the only player with multiple hits for OU at the top of the order, going 2-for-2, while Kady Self and Tori Nirschl had each of the home runs for the Sooners' two scores of the game.
After allowing two on in the first with no score, LSU came back as A.J. Andrews and Bailey Landry both drew walks to put two on for the Tigers. The second wild pitch of the inning advanced the runners to second and third base, although it didn't matter in the end as Bell raked one to the berm in left center to give LSU a 3-0 lead on her second home run of the weekend, as Stevens would be pulled quickly thereafter.
Oklahoma got a run back in the top of the second inning, getting a solo home run from the bat of Nirschl to make it 3-1 LSU.
After a fly out in the bottom of that same inning, Constance Quinn battled through a long at bat to rip a single to left. Emily Griggs pulled out a walk to put two on for LSU in the frame in the hopes of starting a rally, but a fly out to left and a bang-bang play from the circle to first ending the inning for the Tigers.
With no score in the top half of the inning, LSU came up to bat and with two outs already on the board, and after taking the first pitch, Kloss reared back and launched the next over the fence in left center to put LSU up 4-1 in the third.
The Sooners got that run back in the very next frame, getting a leadoff solo home from Self to again cut the deficit as LSU led 4-2 at that point. In the very next inning, OU threatened again earning a leadoff walk to put one on, as a fly out and a strikeout proved to be the first two outs of the inning. A fielding error for LSU put runners at the corners for the Sooners, but a fly out to the warning track in left ended the inning.
"The cool part about Allie's performance was that she made some huge pitches," Torina said. "She definitely had some moments where we could do some things better, but a couple of pitches to Pendley and Chamberlain were huge pitches at some huge moments. She's such a gamer. I thought she really pulled through with that."
Another fruitless inning for OU proved to be costly, as with two outs in the bottom half of the fifth, Bell needed two pitches before cranking her second home run of the day to give LSU a 5-2 advantage. The Tigers weren't done, as Jaquish nearly had an identical at-bat, taking one pitch before yanking the next to left for the second home run of the inning to make it 7-2 LSU on the team's first back-to-back set of homers this season.
In the sixth with one out, Quinn drew a walk and was quickly moved over to second after a Griggs single to the short porch in left. Andrews followed up with a rope to right center for the double to score Quinn to make it 7-2.
Landry grounded out to second allowing Griggs to score to make it 8-2, as an intentional walk to Bell put runners at the corners and the Tigers still moving. With a favorable count at 3-1, Jaquish struck again with a single to left, driving in Andrews to keep two runners on. Taylor Lockwood came on to run for the Tigers for Bell at second with the game-clinching run on the bases, and after an error on a Kloss grounder at short, Simmons blasted a single that ricocheted off of the glove of Pendley to allow Lockwood to score to cap the game at 10-2 to claim the series.
"My team will tell you they still have so much to work on and that they still have a lot of room to grow," Torina said. "It's exciting to see that they continue to push themselves. It was another great test that we passed. What a great program Oklahoma is. They are definitely one of the best teams we've seen all year, without question. I have a ton of respect for what they are doing over there at Oklahoma. They have a great program. I know they are someone we will see again at the end of the year."
LSU closes out its four-game home stand with the South Alabama Jaguars on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network.
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