Softball Splits with No. 8 Georgia; Wins Series
BATON ROUGE – The No. 17 LSU softball team used a dramatic four-run sixth inning to snatch a 5-3 comeback victory before No. 8 Georgia escaped with a 3-2 win during the nightcap Friday evening at Tiger Park in-front of 1,663 fans. The crowd marked the fifth-highest in program history.
Playing host to its 2nd annual Swing for the Cure event, LSU raised $1,935.50 to benefit the Baton Rouge Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. The Tigers honored local breast cancer survivors and their families on the field prior to the series finale. Dr. KC White, Dean of Students and Vice Chancellor of Student Life, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch.
LSU (41-11, 19-6 SEC) emerged with the series win against Georgia (41-10, 18-8 SEC) for just the second time since the 2004 season. The Tigers had their 11-game SEC winning streak come to a close and finished the league home slate with a 13-1 mark.
“I’m very proud of the team, we are all exhausted,” head coach Yvette Girouard said. “This has been a long series. Once again, the fans were fabulous, but it just didn’t happen for us in that last game. It’s been awhile since we’ve won a series against Georgia, so we’re glad we had the opportunity to do that and that the weather didn’t stop us.”
Down 3-1 entering the sixth inning of game one, Courtney Hollier jumpstarted the LSU rally and belted a solo home run down the left field line with one out.
Rachel Mitchell provided the equalizer to make it 3-3 with a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield that not only allowed Mouse to score but enabled Shortridge and Applegate to move into scoring position.
Ashley Langoni was plunked to reload the bases and the Tigers grabbed a 4-3 advantage on a heart stopping play when Shortridge stole home on a toss back to the pitcher.
“I read it in the fifth inning [when I at third base],” Shortridge said. “I looked at Coach Girouard and said, ‘Coach Girouard, they’re not paying attention to me.’ She said, ‘Shorty, you’re fast, but you’re not that fast. You can’t steal home.’ I really trusted the hitters that were coming up, so it made me think twice about it, but I just took off.”
“You have to give it all to Kirsten,” Girouard said. “Never in my career have I had someone who stole home, so that was a game-changer obviously, and it’s like I say all the time, she’s the best athlete on the field, and she took over.”
LSU capped the frame with consecutive walks to Anissa Young and Juliana Santos to go ahead 5-3. Rachele Fico fired 4.2 frames two-hit relief to nail down the 5-3 triumph. She notched six strikeouts against one walk and improved to 17-4 on the season.
Alison Owen was tagged with the first loss of her collegiate career and fell to 10-1.
“Of course, I always have faith in my offense. I know we have great hitters,” Fico said. “They were swinging the bat great all day. Finally, hits started falling, and we ran the bases aggressively. We pieced things together in the end. It really says a lot about our team and how we didn’t quit.”
Georgia dented the scoreboard for single runs during the first, second and third innings before the Tigers pieced together four walks to trim the deficit to 3-1 through three innings.
Both starters, Brittany Mack and McCloud, garnered no-decisions. Mack was touched up for three runs, one earned, on three hits in 2.1 innings of work, while McCloud surrendered three runs on five hits to go along with seven walks over her 5.1 frames.
LSU dialed up the late-inning heroics in the second game after entering the seventh inning behind 3-0. A leadoff fielding error allowed Hollier to reach base. After Mouse was hit-by-a-pitch, Shortridge laced a RBI-single though the right side to push the Tigers back to 3-1.
With runners on the corners, an Applegate ground ball scored pinch runner Tiffany Shaw and advanced Shortridge to second base. The Tigers were poised to send the game into extra frames but Mitchell flew out to left field on a full count offering.
“This isn’t going to stop us and we’re just going to keep moving forward,” Mitchell said. “We’re disappointed we couldn’t win this game, but we’re not going to let it affect us. We need to put it in the back of our minds. We’re going to remember it and work hard.”
Georgia connected for a trio of two-out singles capped by an Alisa Goler line drive to left field to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage in the third inning. A Langoni dropped fly ball kept the frame alive and handed Georgia two unearned runs to turn the score to 3-0.
Owen (11-1) bounced back from her shaky relief outing and held the Tigers scoreless through the first six innings en route to the complete game win.
Cody Trahan was the tough-luck loser and dropped to 12-3 on the season. She limited the high-octane Bulldog attack to a sextet of singles and picked up eight strikeouts against zero walks.
“I would have [liked to get the sweep], but I sure did like the fight in my team,” Girouard said. “We made an uncharacteristic error in the field that probably hurt us. We also had some opportunities with runners on for people to get RBI situations, but it just didn’t happen in this last game.”
LSU wraps up its regular season schedule with a three-game weekend series at No. 16 Tennessee. Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 11 a.m. followed by a 1 p.m. Sunday single game. Games one and three will be televised by ESPN and ESPNU, respectively.
All three games of the series will be broadcasted on ESPN 104.5 and The X 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway set to call all of the action. Fans also can follow live stats in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net along with in-game updates via http://twitter.com/lsu_softball.
Game 1 Quotes
LSU vs. Georgia
April 30, 2010
LSU HEAD COACH YVETTE GIROUARD
On Kirsten Shortridge stealing home plate being the signature moment in the new Tiger Park…
“That might be it. You have to give it all to Kirsten Shortridge because the time before when she got on they weren’t paying attention to her, and I asked her, ‘You want to steal home?’ She kind of looked at me, and I said, ‘You’re not that fast.’ As usual the coach is wrong. Never in my career have I had someone who stole home, so that was a game-changer obviously, and it’s like I say all the time, she’s the best athlete on the field, and she took over.”
On if she was worried when Shortridge took off from third…
“No, because I knew she was going to make it. She timed it just right. She planned it just right. They kind of lobbed the ball back. They weren’t paying attention, and I know how fast she is. She timed that one perfectly.”
On Rachele Fico…
“When it was 3-1, I told her to just keep it to 3-1, and we’re going to hit this girl sooner or later.”
On the rowdy crowd…
“Once again, it was such a huge factor in this game. This is what the atmosphere is like at Alabama and Florida. We need this atmosphere more, and I just cannot compliment the crowd enough.”
CENTER FIELDER KIRSTEN SHORTRIDGE
On stealing home…
“I read it in the fifth inning. I looked at Coach Girouard and said, ‘Coach Girouard, they’re not paying attention to me.’ She said, ‘Shorty, you’re fast, but you’re not that fast. You can’t steal home.’ I really trusted the hitters that were coming up, so it made me think twice about it, but I just took off.”
On if she’s ever stolen home before…
“Yes, in high school and summer ball, but it’s hard to do in college.”
On the rally…
“We were playing with all of our hearts put together in one, and we have really come as one this series. I’d like to see us carry that into next game.”
On if she was worried about the weather when she woke up this morning…
“I was. The anticipation of game-time already is so exciting, but hopefully it holds off for us.”
LSU PITCHER RACHELE FICO
On if she felt at some point the offense would break through…
“Of course, I always have faith in my offense. I know we have great hitters. They were swinging the bat great all day. Finally, hits started falling, and we ran the bases aggressively. We pieced things together in the end. It really says a lot about our team and how we didn’t quit. We fought to the end and won.”
On Shortridge stealing home…
“Kirsten is an unbelievable player. I’ve never met anybody like her in my life. She’s one of a kind. I’ve never seen that type of play at the collegiate level. It goes to show you how much of an incredible player she is.”
On if she was caught off guard with the steal of home…
“I think everybody in the stadium was caught off guard. No one saw that coming, but she really came through today.”
Game 2 Quotes
LSU HEAD COACH YVETTE GIROUARD
On wanting to win that last game to record a sweep…
“I would have, but I sure did like the fight in my team. We made an uncharacteristic error in the field that probably hurt us. We also had some opportunities with runners on for people to get RBI situations, but it just didn’t happen in this last game. I’m very proud of the team, we are all exhausted. This has been a long weekend. Once again, the fans were fabulous, but it just didn’t happen for us in that last game.”
On getting the games in without a rain delay…
“It’s been awhile since we’ve won a series against Georgia, so we’re glad we had the opportunity to do that and that the weather didn’t stop us.”
On one more weekend in SEC play…
“We have a tough task at Tennessee. They play awfully well at their field. They hit the ball, and they pitch well, so it will be a formidable foe for us.”
On being in the mix for the SEC regular season title next weekend…
“We still probably have to sweep Tennessee to be in the mix. There were so many ifs on that five-game road trip [at Florida and Alabama] where we literally gave away two of the games. It might come back and haunt us. There’s nothing we can do about that except try to continue to play well.”
On if she hopes to get at least a No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament…
“We don’t really talk about that. The tournament is a one-and-done thing. Of course, we want to win it. It’s a championship, but we’ve been down that road before. I made that mistake of trying to win it when it was double elimination and throwing Kristin Schmidt into the ground [in 2003]. Georgia got beat in the first round last year and made it to the College World Series. We just want to play well, and if we don’t win and play well, we’ll be OK with that, too. We just want to play well.”
On hoping fans would come out and support LSU if the team were to host a regional…
“I certainly hope so. I hope we have a home-field advantage because frankly, the last time we hosted a regional, we didn’t have a home-field advantage at our own park. We’d like our fans to show up for us because whether they know it or not, our team really feeds off of them.”
LSU RIGHT FIELDER RACHEL MITCHELL
On the team’s confidence level after taking two of three from Georgia…
“This isn’t going to stop us. We’re just going to keep moving forward. We’re disappointed we couldn’t win this game, but we’re not going to let it affect us. We need to put it in the back of our minds. We’re going to remember it and work hard, but we’re not going to let it affect us in future games.”
On if she was proud to see the offense come alive in the sixth and seventh…
“Most definitely. We fought, and we tried to come back, but we just didn’t do it soon enough. That’s something we should probably work on.”
On her last at-bat…
“Once again, I was just trying to put the ball in play to score Kirsten (Shortridge), and I just didn’t get through that ball well enough.”