LSU Softball rallies to defeat Mississippi State in extras
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Tied at 2-2 with the winning score within reach for both sides, the No. 11 LSU softball team battled throughout as the Tigers plated three runs in the top of the 12th and held the home side down the end in a 5-2 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday night at Nusz Park in Starkville.
In a see-saw battle in the final stages of regulation, the Tigers (31-13, 6-11 Southeastern) were down to their final three outs in the seventh before a solo home run from Bianka Bell and RBI double from Sahvanna Jaquish gave LSU a lead that lasted all of a half inning before Mississippi State (23-19, 3-11) scored a run of its own in the bottom half of that same frame to send it to extras.
It took four straight scoreless innings before LSU struck back, getting three of their 14 total hits in the 12th to bring across three in the end, sitting the Bulldogs down in order in the bottom half of the frame to secure the victory and a split in the first two games of the series.
“I loved seeing the Fighting Tigers tonight, seeing the offense show up and continue to battle through some tough situations,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I’m really hoping this can be our breakout moment where understand what we’re capable of.”
Six LSU players earned multiple hits on the night, led by senior Sandra Simmons who went 3-for-3 with an RBI and three walks. The Tigers drew 12 walks in the night, as Simmons and Bell each had three, as Bell finished the night with a double and home run, an RBI and two runs scored.
Jaquish had two hits and had three RBI with a double, as Emily Griggs, Kellsi Kloss and Bailey Landry each had two hits as well.
Earning the start, Allie Walljasper pitched 6.1 solid innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and a walk, as Carley Hoover (12-6) earned the win as she came on in relief and allowed just one hit with six strikeouts and a walk in the remaining 5.2 of the game to earn the victory.
“The pitching staff did a great job of keeping Mississippi State off balance,” Torina said. “The combination of the two of them is deadly, and when they pitch by themselves they are good, but when used combined they have the capability to beat anybody in the country.”
Mississippi State used five pitchers over the course of the game, as Alexis Silkwood (3-6) suffered the loss as she allowed four runs on seven hits with four walks and a strikeout in 5.1 innings Saturday, as Mackenzie Toler and Calyn Adams had two of MSU’s nine hits.
Simmons opened the game with a shot to left center to reach base, as Griggs drew a walk to put two on for LSU. A double play forced out Griggs and the runner at first, but Simmons was able to move to third on the play, but was left there as a fly out to right ended the inning.
With one out in the top of the third, Simmons drew a walk to reach first, as an infield grounder advanced her to second for the second out. A walk to Bell put two on for the second time on the night for the Tigers, but an infield grounder to second ended another LSU threat.
The Tigers got a walk to Kloss to open the top of the fourth, as a fly ball to the warning track in center allowed Kloss to tag up and race to second safely. Taylor Lockwood came on to pinch run at second, advancing to third on an illegal pitch. A walk to Alayna Falcon put runners at the corners, but on the very first pitch of the next at-bat a grounder to short ended the inning.
LSU was able to get two quick outs in the bottom of the fourth, but a walk and a single through the right side of the defense put two Bulldog runners on base for the first time all night. However, Walljasper was able to get a strikeout to close the frame and end the MSU threat.
For the second time in the game Simmons led off an inning with a single as she opened the top of the fifth with a ripped shot up the middle to reach first. Griggs came up next and produced a bunt single to third to put two on for the Tigers with no outs, prompting a MSU pitching change. The change worked as the next three batters went down in order as the game remained scoreless.
Jaquish earned a walk to put a Tiger runner on for LSU, but a fielder’s choice proved to be the first out of the top of the sixth. After a pop up to left field, Landry singled through the right side to put two on, as a walk to Simmons loaded the bases for the first time for either team on the night. Mississippi State went back to the bullpen for the third pitcher of the night, and in the end a grounder to short ended the frame.
In the bottom half of that same inning a bunt single put an MSU runner on base, as on the very next at bat a double to the wall in left center broke the scoreless deadlock as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead.
One swing of the bat changed everything as Bell unloaded and drilled one to the trees in left to tie the game at 1-1. After another MSU pitching change, a ground out to short put one out on the board, as Kloss came back to rope a single down the line in left. It proved to be the driving factor for another run as Jaquish followed with a rip double down the line to score Kloss from first to put LSU up 2-1.
After getting the first out of the bottom of the seventh, a hit batter and a single to left prompted the call to the bullpen as Hoover came on in relief. A grounder to first was the second out, but the runners advanced to second and third on the play, as a wild pitch brought in the tying run from third, with another runner now at third base. A walk put runners at the corners, as a strikeout should have been the third out but the ball bounced off the dirt and no throw was made to first to load the bases, but a foul out to Simmons at first ended the inning, sending the game to extras.
With two outs and a runner on base in the eighth, Bell ripped a double to the gap in left center to put two in scoring position and put the pressure back on the Bulldogs, but a grounder to second ended the top of the eighth.
After a score of fruitless innings for both sides, Landry led off the top of the 12th with a roped triple to left center to spark life into the Tigers. She didn’t stay there long as Simmons hit a deep fly to center, driving in Landry to give LSU the lead back at 3-2.
Griggs didn’t stop the hits as she drilled a single to center to keep the inning going. A walk to Bell put two on as MSU changed pitchers again, as a walk to Hoover loaded the bases, as after a fly out, Jaquish bounced a single off the wall to bring in two making it 5-2 for the final tally.
First pitch for the rubber match is set for 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon in Starkville.