Mitchell Powers Softball Past Georgia

by Matt Dunaway
Softball vs. Georgia Game 1 (4/29) Updated LSU Team Stats Printable Box Score Box Score +0
Mitchell Powers Softball Past Georgia

BATON ROUGE – The No. 17 LSU softball turned in a complete performance for the ESPN national television audience sparked by Rachel Mitchell‘s record-breaking two-run blast coupled with a Cody Trahan complete game gem to upend No. 8 Georgia by a 5-1 margin Thursday night to open a SEC series in-front of 1,416 fans at Tiger Park.

LSU (40-10, 18-5 SEC) notched its 40th win of the season and pulled within a half-game of Alabama for first place in the SEC Western Division race. The Tigers also ended Georgia’s (40-9, 17-7 SEC) 15-game winning streak. 

“It was an unbelievable night. I think opening night and Alabama [last season] was close to tonight’s excitement,” head coach Yvette Girouard said. “I think the crowd knew the importance of us beating Georgia. They knew we needed a good showing on national TV, and wow, did they ever show up. It was great that [women’s basketball] Coach [Van] Chancellor came.”

“I can’t thank the fans enough. They energized our team,” Girouard continued. “The team was so pumped up. The crowd was definitely the 10th player for us out there tonight. We jumped on Georgia quickly, and I think that got the crowd even more excited.”

The historic dinger for Mitchell was the 33rd of her career, vaulting her into first place on LSU’s all-time list. She eclipsed three-time All-American Leslie Klein [2004-07], who had 32 long balls for her career.

“The thought didn’t occur to me until I was rounding second base, and then as I was coming up to third base, I thought, ‘I broke the record!” I’m very excited,’ Mitchell said. “Leslie Klein is always out at the field helping us out. She always tells me that she wants me to break the record and now I have it.

Mitchell was joined by Kirsten Shortridge and Ashley Langoni with multi-hit efforts to fuel the Tigers. Shortridge also posted a pair of steals and joined Dee Douglas [1998-2001] as the only players to reach the 40-steal plateau in program history.

Trahan, who missed the Kentucky series last weekend, returned the circle with a vengeance and mowed down 11 of the first 13 batters she faced. She limited UGA’s high-octane offense to quintet of singles en route to her ninth complete game. The Little Cypress, Texas native added three strikeouts against one walk to improve to 12-2 on the season. 

“Every time we put on our jerseys, Coach Girouard tells us that it’s a privilege, not a right,” Trahan said. “It’s true, I didn’t deserve it last weekend. I had to come out tonight, have my team’s back and apologize by throwing well. I felt like I had to prove myself tonight and we got it done.”

LSU clicked on all cylinders to build a 5-0 advantage through three innings. The Tigers dented the scoreboard for a pair of runs in the first and second innings followed by a single-run during the third.

Shortridge cranked the first offering for a single to centerfield. She stole second base and advanced to third on an Ashley Applegate fly ball to right field. Two batters later, Langoni connected for a RBI-single through the left side to push LSU ahead 1-0.

The Tigers continued the two-out magic as Anissa Young was hit-by-a-pitch and Juliana Santos drew a nine-pitch walk to load the bases. Morgan Russell tacked on a base-on-balls of her own to make it 2-0.

“We just executed all the way around,” Shortridge said. “We executed in every aspect of the game, but we still left runners on-base. We need to continue executing against teams like Georgia. Coach [Girouard] always says to play Tiger softball because we’re playing the name on our chest.”

LSU opened the second with Jessica Mouse getting plunked. On a 2-1 pitch, Mitchell sent a majestic blast to left centerfield onto the berm for the record breaker as the Tigers surged out to a 4-0 lead.

“I told Rachel the other day that she would have broken it sooner. The ball doesn’t carry as well as it should sometimes here,” Girouard said. “She crushed that ball, it would have gone out a lot of parks. We got the ball out the park, and Georgia just missed some. Mitchell has been very important to us in her career.”

Courtney Hollier put a 0-for-12 stretch in the rear view mirror during the third inning and belted a RBI-single to plate Santos and extend the Tiger advantage to 5-0.

Georgia notched a RBI-single from Taylor Schlopy in the fifth inning before Trahan retired seven of the last nine batters she faced to secure the 5-1 triumph. She coaxed the Bulldogs into 12 fly ball outs and Shortridge tallied seven putouts from her centerfield post.   

“Being behind in the count is what kept her behind all of these years. You don’t have the luxury of big movement if you’re always working from behind the count,” Girouard said. “You don’t get to throw your great breaking curve ball if you start off behind a batter. We’ve preached and preached. I know she’s got sick of it. I know she sees now that you have to work ahead. I think that’s been the key to her this year.”

The two teams will conclude its series with a Friday doubleheader slated for 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. with the finale being televised on ESPN U with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza anchoring the coverage. Live video for the 4 p.m. contest is available in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net

Both games will be broadcasted live on ESPN 104.5 and The X 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe set to call all of the action. Fans also can follow live stats on LSUsports.net in addition to in-game updates via http://twitter.com/lsu_softball.

Tickets are on-sale now and can be purchased online on LSUsports.net in addition to in person starting at 2 p.m. at the Tiger Park Ticket Trailer located at the left field entrance. LSU will wear pink jerseys during Friday’s series finale as part of its 2nd annual Swing for the Cure event to benefit the Baton Rouge Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. A silent auction with a variety of LSU memorabilia and donation tables will be set up throughout Tiger Park.

“Georgia is not dead. That’s what I told the team. Not much affects Georgia,” Girouard said. “We’re going to see some Bulldogs coming out and fighting tomorrow. All wins are important to us, but tonight it was very special because we were on a national stage and the crowd was so awesome.” 

No. 17 LSU vs. No. 8 Georgia
Postgame Quotes – April 29, 2010

RF Rachel Mitchell

On the beginning of the game…
“Georgia is a team that’s confident and they’ll shove in your face. If you don’t match their attitude, they’ll walk all over you. That’s what we did. We came out ready to play. They’re a tough team and always ready to play.

On breaking home run record…
“The thought didn’t occur to me until I was rounding second base, and then as I was coming up to third base, I thought, ‘I broke the record!” I’m very excited.’ Leslie Klein is always out at the field helping us out. She always tells me that she wants me to break the record and now I have it. 

On tonight’s atmosphere…
“This feeling, how we played tonight in-front of our fans, is what it’s all about. It’s an awesome feeling. Playing quality teams like Georgia makes playing so much more fun.” 

On preparing for tomorrow’s game…
“We fed off the crowd today. Georgia’s a tough team, they never say die. They’re going to come out here tomorrow playing even harder with even more confidence. That’s the way they play, and we know that. We have to come out tomorrow just as hyped up as they are.”

P Cody Trahan

On LSU’s defense…
“Pitchers get hit sometimes. The outfielders did an amazing job tonight, and if they hadn’t, who knows what would have happened tonight. Georgia hits the ball, they swing hard every at-bat. It’s so important to have a great team defense behind you.

On returning to the mound…
“Every time we put on our jerseys, Coach Girouard tells us that it’s a privilege, not a right. It’s true, I didn’t deserve it last weekend. I had to come out tonight, have my team’s back and apologize by throwing well. I felt like I had to prove myself tonight and we got it done.”

On missing last weekend’s games…
“It was bad timing. I’ve had some issues with being on-time in my career. After we lost to McNeese State, we had a punishment run. It was bad timing all around, and stuff happens.”

On rotating pitchers…
“That’s the way we’ve been playing all year. We just go through the rotation between the three of us. If we can pitch a complete game, that means so much for the pitchers behind us. [Rachele] Fico didn’t have to pitch tonight, so that means she will come out fresh tomorrow. That’s another advantage for us. 

CF Kirsten Shortridge

On wind during tonight’s game…
“The wind was pretty crazy. Whenever Georgia hit those balls, they come off the bat hard, so that forced me be quick on my feet.”

On tonight’s performance…
“We just executed all the way around. We executed in every aspect of the game, but we still left runners on-base. We need to continue executing against teams like Georgia. Coach [Girouard] always says to play Tiger softball because we’re playing the name on our chest.”

Head Coach Yvette Girouard

On tonight’s emotions…
“It was an unbelievable night. I think opening night and Alabama [last season] was close to tonight’s excitement. I think the crowd knew the importance of us beating Georgia. They knew we needed a good showing on national TV, and wow, did they ever show up. It was great that [women’s basketball] Coach [Van] Chancellor came. I can’t thank the fans enough. They energized our team. The team was so pumped up. The crowd was definitely the 10th player for us out there tonight. We jumped on Georgia quickly, and I think that got the crowd even more excited.”

On Rachel Mitchell breaking Leslie Klein’s home run record…
“I told Rachel the other day that she would have broken it sooner. The ball doesn’t carry as well as it should sometimes here. She crushed that ball, it would have gone out a lot of parks. We got the ball out the park, and Georgia just missed some. Mitchell has been very important to us in her career.”

On Cody Trahan‘s improvement throughout her career…
“Being behind in the count is what kept her behind all of these years. You don’t have the luxury of big movement if you’re always working from behind the count. You don’t get to throw your great breaking curve ball if you start off behind a batter. We’ve preached and preached. I know she’s got sick of it. I know she sees now that you have to work ahead. I think that’s been the key to her this year.”

On tomorrow’s doubleheader against Georgia…
“Georgia is not dead. That’s what I told the team. Not much affects Georgia. We’re going to see some Bulldogs coming out and fighting tomorrow. All wins are important to us, but tonight it was very special because we were on a national stage and the crowd was so awesome.”