No. 2 Tigers Rally to Defeat No. 13 Alabama, 2-1 in SEC Tournament

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
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No. 2 Tigers Rally to Defeat No. 13 Alabama, 2-1 in SEC Tournament

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A two-RBI double by Lauren Castle in the third inning erased a one run deficit as the second-ranked LSU softball team defeated No. 13 Alabama, 2-1, in front of a crowd of 1,116 in the second round of the SEC Tournament at the Alabama Softball Complex on Friday night.

With their fourth consecutive win over the Crimson Tide this season, the Tigers improved to 48-9 on the year. LSU will now play the winner of the Mississippi State-Auburn game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Alabama dropped to 42-17 overall and will face elimination against Tennessee on Saturday at 11 a.m.

“This was a great atmosphere, it was a regional atmosphere,” said LSU head coach Yvette Girouard. “Alabama’s fans showed up tonight and it made for a great atmosphere for softball. It is amazing to beat a very good Alabama team four times in one year on their home field and we may have to beat them five times before it is all over.”

For the second straight night, Kristin Schmidt earned the complete-game victory for the Tigers. She improved to 30-5 on the season, making her the fourth pitcher in SEC history with two 30-win seasons. The All-American from Houston allowed one run on five hits with a season-high six walks while striking out five.

Castle finished the game with a 2-for-3 performance with a double and the game-winning RBIs. Julie Wiese also recorded a multiple-hit game, going 2-for-3 on the night.

Leigh Ann Danos also recorded her first pick offs of the season from behind the plate. The junior catcher caught both Jackie Wilkins and Deasy Phillips returning to base, while also gunning down Angela Johnson trying to steal.

“Schmidt did a great job tonight,” said Girouard. “She came back from an outstanding performance yesterday and did wonderful tonight. We were very opportunistic and got the hits when we needed them. The pick off plays were big and Castle’s hit was the big blow.”

LSU got a runner to third with one out to start the game, but could not push the run across. LaDonia Hughes reached on a two-base error by the third basemen to lead off the game. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lauren Castle, but an infield pop out and a strikeout ended the inning.

Alabama struck first with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Ashley Courtney led off with an infield single. After advancing to second on an infield groundout, she scored on a single to right field by Jackie McClain.

“One thing about this team is that they are resilient,” said Girouard. “One of the things that we do best is answer. We have answered back all year long.”

In the top of the third inning, the Tigers did just that, scoring a pair of runs to take the lead. With one out, Camille Harris singled through the left side. After Alabama came out to argue a foul ball call against Hughes, she doubled to right center, sending Harris to third. A double off of McClain at first by Castle scored Harris and Hughes to give LSU the 2-1 advantage.

In the bottom half of the inning, Wilkins reached on a fielding error by Lauren Delahoussaye at shortstop. With two outs, she advanced to second as Jackie McClain drew a walk. Danos then picked Wilkins off returning to second to end the inning.

With one out in the fourth, Wiese singled to left field. She advanced to second on a ground out by Sara Fitzgerald. A passed ball sent her to third, but the Tigers could not push the run across as the inning ended with Wiese on third.

Alabama loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Stacey Ramsey doubled to left field. A walk to Dominique Accetturo put runners on first and second. With two outs, Johnson walked to load the bases, but Schmidt coaxed Wilkins into an infield ground out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Crimson Tide put the tying run on third. Schmidt walked Capper Reed to lead off the inning. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before advanced to third on a second sacrifice. With two outs, Schmidt intentionally walked Courtney to get to Leah White, who was 0-for-2. White then struck out swinging on three-straight pitches to end the game.

The victory moved LSU 25-7 all-time in SEC Tournament play, the most wins of any school in the league. The Tigers have also now won their second tournament game in five of the last six tournament appearances.

LSU 002 000 0 – 2 8 1
Alabama 100 000 0 – 1 5 2
Schmidt and Danos. J. Wright, VanBrakle (5) and Courtney.
W – Schmidt (30-5). L – J. Wright (13-2).
T – 2:34. A – 1,116.