LSU clinches part of SEC West title
UNC lacrosse claims first ACC championship since 1996
LSU softball fans probably have their nails bitten down to the quick after a weekend of one-run games, but they were certainly rewarded as the No. 12 Tigers swept defending NCAA champion and fourth-ranked Alabama and clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division title.
It was the first time Alabama had been swept since the Tide’s last trip to Baton Rouge, La., in 2011, as the Tigers stretched a streak of eight consecutive home victories against Alabama dating to the '08 season.
The series began with an extra-inning, walk-off victory by the Tigers on Thursday thanks to an RBI single by Sandra Simmons in the eighth inning that lifted LSU to the 3-2 win. On Friday, pitcher Ashley Czecher held the Tide to one run on eight hits and moved to 10-0 on the season as LSU edged Alabama 2-1 in front of a school-record 2,651 fans.
Saturday’s conclusion did not disappoint another program-record crowd of 3,231 fans at Tiger Park as LSU rallied from three separate deficits for a 4-3 victory on Senior Day. Jacee Blades ripped an RBI single in the fifth inning to drive in the eventual game-winning run as LSU secured its 12th 40-win regular season in program history. Senior pitcher Rachele Fico retired the final four Alabama batters as she earned her second win of the weekend, holding off the Tide to improve to 24-9 on the season.
“Honestly, it’s not about Alabama at all for me,” LSU head coach Beth Torina said. “It is about these Tiger fans and this team being able to be in the spot they are in the toughest conference in the nation. They lead the SEC West. We have the best fans in the country. They came out [Sunday] and supported us. They changed the game multiple times in multiple ways. They were unbelievable all weekend.”
“To be able to clinch the SEC West on this day is just such a special thing to me,” Fico said. “It’s something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
LSU has won six of seven SEC series this season and holds a three-game lead ahead of Alabama in the SEC West standings heading into the final week of regular-season action. The Tigers clinched at least a share of their first SEC West Division title since 2007.
• The BYU men’s volleyball team captured its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament title since 2004 with a 3-0 sweep of Long Beach State on Saturday. Ben Patch contributed 18 kills and a .394 hitting percentage, while Taylor Sander added 15 kills to earned Most Valuable Player honors. With the victory, the No. 1 Cougars secured their first NCAA tournament appearance since claiming the national title in 2004. BYU will be the top seed of the four-team championship, which begins Thursday at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.
• Oklahoma senior pitcher Keilani Ricketts set a pair of school records as she no-hit Iowa State on Sunday in a 12-0, five-inning victory. It was Ricketts’ fifth career no-hitter and fourth of the season, setting school marks for both categories. Ricketts fanned 10 batters, improving to 24-1 on the season. The Sooners outscored the Cyclones 44-1 in the three-game series sweep.
• In a meeting between the top two women’s water polo teams in the nation, No. 2 USC knocked off No. 1 Stanford 11-7 in the title game of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship in Berkeley, Calif., on Sunday. The Women of Troy claimed their first MPSF title since 2009 and secured an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. USC outscored the Cardinal 5-0 in the first period for a lead it never relinquished. Hannah Buckley’s career-best four goals led USC in scoring. The two teams had traded wins during the regular season.
• The Villanova 4x800 women’s relay team won the Championship of America race at the Penn Relays on Saturday, breaking the all-time collegiate record with a winning time of 8:17.45. It was the 10th time the Wildcats have won the event at the Penn Relays. Junior Emily Lipari anchored the team of freshmen Kelsey Margey and Angel Piccirillo and junior Nicky Akande, running down Oregon anchor Laura Roesler for the victory. Lipari, who also anchored Villanova’s winning distance medley relay team, was named the College Women’s Athlete of the Meet for the Relay Events. She is the fifth Villanova athlete to win the award and the first since 1997.
• The No. 3 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team claimed its first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title since 1996 with a 16-13 defeat of Virginia. The Tar Heels set an ACC championship scoring record with 34 goals in two games. Marcus Holman garnered Most Valuable Player honors after assisting on five goals Sunday as he became the Tar Heels’ all-time leading scorer with 207 points. Davey Emala led UNC offensively with four goals and one assist.
•South Carolina freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop turned in a masterful performance at No. 2 LSU on Sunday as the Gamecocks pulled out a series victory with a 4-0 defeat of the Tigers. Wynkoop hurled seven scoreless innings, scattering five hits and not walking a batter. It is the Tigers’ first SEC series loss of the season.
• After winning a school-record 38 consecutive games, the University of Indianapolis softball team suffered its first loss in almost two months, falling 5-3 to defending Midwest Region champion Saint Joseph's (Ind.) on Wednesday in Division II action. The Greyhounds then fell again on Saturday as Lewis sophomore pitcher Kelly Bowler tossed a no-hitter to upend the No. 1 team in the nation 2-0. It was the first time the Flyers had beaten a top-ranked team since Wisconsin-Parkside in 1997. UIndy did bounce back with a 7-3 victory in the second game of the doubleheader, and then followed it up by dominating UW-Parkside on Sunday, outscoring the opponent 13-1 in a doubleheader sweep. UIndy finished the regular season with 48 victories -- the most in Division II.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|13||The Loyola (Md.) men’s lacrosse team ended a 13-game losing streak to Johns Hopkins on Saturday as the Greyhounds topped the Blue Jays 8-4 after holding them scoreless for the final 29:18 of the contest. Loyola last defeated JHU in 1999.|
|14||Albany junior attackman Miles Thompson returned from a three-game absence with a bang, tallying a school-record 14 points in the Great Danes’ 21-12 win against Stony Brook on Saturday. It tied for the third-highest point total in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse history and broke his brother Lyle’s 11-point mark set against UMBC earlier this season.|
|31||After a 31-game hitting streak, Saint Benedict freshman Kimberly Lidstone was finally held hitless as the Blazers dropped a doubleheader to St. Thomas (Minn.) on Saturday. Lidstone’s streak was the fourth-longest in Division III softball history and the longest since 2004. She is batting .435 on the season.|
|75||The Kalamazoo men’s tennis squad extended the longest streak of consecutive conference championships in American intercollegiate athletics on Tuesday as the Hornets downed Alma 9-0 to force a three-way tie for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship with Hope and Calvin. The Hornets have earned at least a share of the MIAA title every season since 1936.|
|300||Both the Concordia-St. Paul baseball and softball coaches earned their 300th career victories -- against the same school on Thursday. Head baseball coach Mark “Lunch” McKenzie picked up his 300th win a 1-0 defeat of Southwest Minnesota State, while head coach Bob Bartel notched his 300th with an 11-1 victory against the Mustangs later the same day.|
• Washington & Jefferson junior Cheyenne Mangold garnered 2013 Presidents’ Athletic Conference Track & Field Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 34 points en route to a third-place team finish for the Presidents. Mangold racked up victories in the 200-meter dash (25.50), the 400-meter dash (56.13) and the 400-meter hurdles (1:02.21), establishing new championship-meet records in each event. A native of Boerne, Texas, Mangold also tied the school record with her time in the 200 meters.
• The No. 2 Salisbury women's lacrosse team rolled a 16-4 win against St. Mary's (Md.) in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals in Division III action. With the win, the Sea Gulls advanced to the CAC final on May 4 as they look to capture their 11th consecutive league championship. Senior Lauren Feusahrens’ five goals moved her up the charts to fifth on the school’s all-time list with 151. She has a team-best 48 on the year.
• The No. 1 USC women’s golf team ran away with the Pac-12 championship as the Trojans won their school-record-tying fifth tournament of the season. Annie Park became the school’s third consecutive freshman to win the conference individual title by shooting a 7-under-par 209. Junior Sophie Popov claimed second place, finishing just two strokes behind her teammate.
• The No. 12 East Texas Baptist women’s softball team upset No. 1 Texas-Tyler twice during the weekend, including a 6-2 victory in the American Southwest Conference title game Saturday as the Tigers claimed their first league championship since 2011. The Tigers also earned an automatic bid to the Division III regional tournament, which will be hosted by UT-Tyler in May.
• The No. 7 UW-Whitewater baseball team clinched at least a share of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title, sweeping Wisconsin-Lacrosse in a doubleheader Sunday. It is the 10th conference title since 2000 for the Warhawks, and first regular-season crown since '10. UW-Whitewater has been on an offensive surge of late, tallying double-digit hits in the past six games, while averaging more than 13 runs per game.
• The Harvard-Radcliffe heavyweight crew swept all five races at Sunday's Beanpot Regatta in a field comprised of local rivals Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern, MIT and Holy Cross; all of the teams sent the message “Boston Strong” to support victims and survivors of the Boston Marathon tragedy. Crews from each of the six schools wore "Row for Boston" shirts designed by Corinne Wee of the Harvard-Radcliffe lightweight crew. The shirt featured the oar designs of each individual college, all coming together to form the word "Boston", and can be bought online here: http://bostonstrong.boathousegear.com/. All proceeds from T-shirt sales will go to the Boston Children's Hospital Emergency and Trauma Fund.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy