No. 13 LSU batters No. 10 Texas A&M, continues to lead SEC Western Division
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -– No. 13 LSU garnered another solid offensive effort fueled by a seven-run third inning and eight players collected RBIs as the Tigers came away with a 10-2 win against No. 10 Texas A&M in five innings Sunday during the rubber game of the three-game series at the Aggie Softball Complex.
With the victory, LSU (35-9, 11-4 SEC) secured its fifth consecutive SEC series victory and remained in sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division standings. The last time the Aggies (34-9, 6-8 SEC) were handed a five-inning run rule defeat was versus Oklahoma State during the 2009 season.
“I think Sunday’s in the SEC are all about heart and guts,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Our players did a great job of finding a way to win and finding a way to win this series on the road. Coach Dobson preaches to our offense about staying in the hitting plan, making sure that we’re selective and swinging at our pitch.”
The Tigers sent 13 batters to the plate during the third inning and busted open a tie ballgame to grab a seven-run advantage.
Bianka Bell and Sandra Simmons drew a pair of walks sandwiched between an A&M fielding error to fill the bases. On the first pitch of the sequence, Tammy Wray ripped the go-ahead RBI single through the left side to give LSU a 3-2 advantage.
Lauren Houston, Simone Heyward and Jacee Blades coaxed bases loaded free passes to stretch the lead to 6-2. In her second plate appearance, Bell smacked a RBI single to deep into the hole at second base. An A&M throwing error enabled Blades to score to make it 9-2.
LSU added another run in the fourth inning after Tammy Wray led off the frame with a sharp single down the left field line. Pinch runner Alex Boulet was inserted into the game and advanced to second base on a Houston sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Boulet raced home on Andrews’ RBI single through the middle for the final margin of 10-2.
Rachele Fico went the distance for the Tigers and improved to 22-7 on the season. The senior right-hander held the potent A&M offense to a pair of hits and registered four strikeouts versus five walks.
“Rachele kept us in the series, and I thought she was in control the entire way in [Sunday's] game,” Torina said. “She threw more balls than I would have liked at times, but Texas A&M has a very powerful offense. There are times when you have to pitch around them, and I thought Rachele executed her game plan very well.”
“Winning this series is huge for our group,” Fico said. “We showed so much fight and so much mental strength to be able to bounce back to win two games in a row. I was able to settle down, trust my pitches, change speeds and hit my spots after a rough first inning. I wasn’t nervous at all, and I knew our offense would pull it out because they’ve been swinging the bats so well.”
LSU fired out to a 2-0 edge during the first inning. Blades was hit by a pitch on the foot, while Falcon belted a two-run home run to left field. For Falcon, it was her fifth dinger of the season and first since the Mississippi State finale on March 10.
“Both Allison and Tammy have been swinging well at practice,” Torina said. “They’ve worked extremely hard to get themselves back on track both mentally and physically. They’ve done some things to adjust their swings, and they get a lot of credit for the win [Sunday].”
The Aggies charged back with a two-run homer of their own courtesy of Nicole Morgan. A&M loaded the bases, but Fico buckled down to get Meagan May to foul out to keep the score at 2-2.
Fico used the same formula and stranded the bases loaded in the fifth inning. She once again got May to foul out to end the threat.
“We definitely changed the approach and the pitching game plan,” Fico said. “What helps me be successful is that I can use different pitches on different days. We were using a lot of drop balls, and it was working for us to be able to get a lot of ground balls outs.”