LSU softball's streak halted by South Carolina
BATON ROUGE - The No. 13 LSU softball team had its nine-game winning streak come to a close as South Carolina claimed a 4-1 win during the series finale Sunday at Tiger Park.
The Tigers (27-6, 7-2 SEC) were handed only their second loss at home on the season, while South Carolina (18-11, 1-5 SEC) halted LSU's 15-game winning streak in the series dating back to 2008. At the end of three conference weekends, LSU continues to hold sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division standings.
"South Carolina played hard today," head coach Beth Torina said. "They played harder than we did. They fought really hard, and they made good adjustments where we didn't. Rachele doesn't have to perfect every time she takes the field. I know we expect her to be, but she doesn't have to be. We are capable of scoring enough runs on a day where she doesn't have her best stuff. We didn't do that today."
The Gamecocks grabbed an early 1-0 edge during the first inning. Samie Garcia banged a leadoff triple off the right field fence wall. LSU starting pitcher Rachele Fico was poised to get out of the jam, but Kristen Struett delivered the first of her three hits by knocking a two-out single deep into the hole between shortstop and third base for the game's first run.
The Tigers had an opportunity to draw even in the second inning. Allison Falcon and Sandra Simmons connected a pair of singles and moved into scoring position on Tammy Wray's sacrifice bunt. However, Kellsi Kloss fouled out followed by a Simone Heyward pop out to keep the score at 1-0.
South Carolina extended its lead to 2-0 during the third inning, and the Gamecocks made the most of an Alaynie Page one-out walk. Two batters later, Page crossed the plate on Struett's two-out single to left centerfield.
LSU fired back with some two-out magic of its own and pulled back to within 2-1 in the fourth inning. Wray drew a walk and scampered around the bases on Kloss' RBI double into the right centerfield gap.
"We missed a couple chances," Torina said. "Kellsi had the big RBI double, but she also had an opportunity with runners on second and third earlier in the game and didn't come through. We had a lot of opportunities, all of them did. Kellsi swung well and some of the others did too. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't at the right times today."
The Gamecocks responded with two runs during the fifth inning courtesy of a two-run single by Chelsea Hawkins down the right field line to go ahead by a 4-1 margin.
LSU was able to put a baserunner on in each of the final three frames, but USC's Audrey Broyles finished off her complete game effort to improve to 7-4 on the season. She scattered one run on five hits and recorded two strikeouts against two walks.
"South Carolina came out today, and you could tell they didn't want to be swept," Kloss said. "They fought right away. They got that run in the first inning. Normally, we can come back from that. We can tell ourselves it's not a big deal. By the time we got one and cut the lead in half, they put some more runs up next inning. We felt defeated, and that is not who we are. We shouldn't feel that way, but today they got the best from us."
Fico was dealt her first SEC setback of the season and her overall record dropped to 16-4. All four runs were earned on seven hits. The senior right-hander tallied four strikeouts versus three walks.
"They were able to string some hits together today," Fico said. "Things fell their way, but we need to come out and be better than that. We can't let games like this get away from us."
LSU completes its 10-game homestand Tuesday with its lone meeting of the 2013 season versus Southeastern Louisiana. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Tiger Park.