Softball Secures Season Sweep of Nicholls

by Matt Dunaway
Softball vs. Nicholls - Audio Replay Printable Box Score +0
Softball Secures Season Sweep of Nicholls

BATON ROUGE – The LSU softball team platted runs in all five innings behind an 11-hit attack to claim its seventh consecutive victory and an 8-0 triumph over Nicholls State Wednesday at Tiger Park.

The left-handed bats of Alex Boulet, Simone Heyward, Tiffany Shaw and Cassie Trosclair fueled the LSU offense with multi-hit performances. The Tigers (22-12) also received two RBIs apiece from Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos.

“They’ve [the left-handed bats] been in a big lull,” head coach Yvette Girouard said. “We challenged them and said they absolutely had to work harder at practice. It looks like it paid off a little here. It was awfully nice to come home, and they put a lot of pressure on the defense. They create so much havoc out there, and we saw it tonight.”

Rachele Fico logged four shutout innings and added four strikeouts to go over the century mark for the season. The sophomore right-hander extended her scoreless innings streak to 20 and won her third straight decision to move to 8-8 for the season.

“It felt good, there was great energy on the field and in the dugout,” Fico said. “It was a complete team effort, and I just take it one pitch at a time. Coach Girouard has done a great job of building me back up, and my team has done a great job supporting me. I’m just trying to work through it and take it one day at a time.”

LSU charged out to a 1-0 advantage in the first inning as Heyward slapped an infield single and stole second base. She came around to score on a pair of Santos and Langoni ground balls.

The Tigers seized control of the contest and posted a four-spot during the second inning. With runners on second and third, Tiffany Shaw knocked an infield single to score pinch runner Katie Guillory.

Heyward was hit-by-pitch to fill the bases. Santos, Langoni and Tammy Wray followed with RBIs on a walk, fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly to push the lead to 5-0.

LSU added runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Boulet used some alert base running to cross the plate during the third, while Anissa Young tacked on a RBI single to right field during the fourth inning to make it 7-0.

With singles in the fourth inning, Young and Wray both extended their hitting streaks to six games. Santos ended the game with a RBI groundout for the final margin of 8-0.

Brittany Mack tossed a spotless frame of relief and mixed in two strikeouts.   

“I feel better about our two through five hitters right now than I did a month ago,” Girouard said. “They weren’t producing at all, and I think that we have a chance with them right now to score some runs. Hopefully, we have a little bit more confidence right now.”

LSU squares off with No. 1 Alabama for a pivotal SEC Western Division battle over the weekend at Tiger Park. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday followed by a 1 p.m. Sunday tilt televised by ESPNU. 

All three games of the series will have live audio and live stats available in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net in addition to being carried live on ESPN 104.5 FM with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe calling the action.

In-game updates via the program’s social media pages at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and www.Twitter.com/LSU_Softball.

The Tiger Park Ticket Booth opens 90 minutes prior to first pitch on Friday and Sunday. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission. Saturday’s contest is a free general admission event following the National L Club Spring Game.  

Softball Postgame Quotes
LSU vs. Nicholls State
April 6, 2011

Head Coach Yvette Girouard

On the slappers’ performance …
“They’ve been in a big lull. We challenged them and said they absolutely had to work harder at practice. It looks like it paid off a little here. It was awfully nice to come home, and they put a lot of pressure on the defense. They create so much havoc out there, and tonight we saw it.”

On Putting Pressure on Nicholls’ Defense …
“I’m sure it was frustrating because you know that if you make one little mistake they’re on. The first time I ever saw a slapper I thought it was the chickenest way to get on. Then when I was trying to defend it I was thinking. ‘I need to go get me some of those.’ They can create a lot of havoc on offense. Sometimes when the power hitters are off, at least you have the short game that can maybe come through for you.”

On the team’s confidence …
“We’ve handled Nicholls pretty well three times now. We seem to have their number. Now, the next three games might be a whole lot different. We’ll have to really perform well. This is a very good Alabama team coming in.”

On the team bouncing back from a 0-6 SEC Start …
“Hopefully, we have a little bit more confidence right now. We’ll have to keep the ball in the ballpark because they can hit it out. We’ll have to execute offensively because I think this is the best pitching staff Alabama has had in a long time. They have a No. 1 and a No. 1-A, they haven’t had that for a long time.”

On the offense …
“I feel better about our two through five hitters right now than I did a month ago. They weren’t producing at all, and I think that we have a chance with them right now to score some runs. Somebody needs to step up in that critical situation. They faced Kelsi Dunne now. The juniors have seen her every year, she’s very good.”

On Rachele Fico
“I’ll have to see the video. Either she wasn’t getting calls, or we were just a little bit off. I would’ve liked to seen her be a bit more dominating, more strikeouts. But she certainly controlled their hitters, and that’s what you look for.”

P Rachele Fico

On tonight’s performance…
“It felt good. There was great energy on the field and in the dugout. It was a complete team effort today. The bats really came alive. We’re just clicking on all cylinders. The slappers really showed up big time today, got on-base and made things happen with their speed. They set the table for our power hitters. It was a great team effort today.”

On her performance …
“I just take it one pitch at a time. Coach Girouard has done a great job of building me back up, and my team has done a great job supporting me. I’m just trying to work through it and take it one day at a time.”

On defeating Nicholls three times this season …
“It’s tough to come in and beat a team three times. You just have to take it one pitch at a time, one play at a time and you need to just play the game with the utmost intensity the entire time.”

On the seven-game winning streak after rough SEC start …
“We hit our rough patch earlier in the season. We’re working through it and coming back strong. We’re doing the things we need to do at practice. We’re executing in the games. We’re just on a roll right now. We need to keep going with our momentum and keep playing the way we know how.”

On Alabama this weekend …
“You have to go against every single team the same way regardless of who the opponent is. It doesn’t matter what batter is in the box or what jersey is on their back. You need to go at them with your best effort for every single play.”

LF Ashley Langoni

On tonight’s game …
“When there are a couple of players on the team not hitting, that’s when we have all the other teammates come up. This past weekend, a couple of the slappers weren’t hitting and the power players had been hitting. When the day comes when we’re not hitting, the slappers come and pick up our slack. It was just a full team effort.”

On the team’s consistency …
“It just keeps them on their toes. When you put the ball in play, sooner or later someone’s going to make a mistake. It just helps.”

On the team’s base running …
“Every day at practice, we work on base running before we start anything. That’s one of the key things in our practice plan, base running. If you don’t have base running then you’re not going to win games.”

On the seven-game winning streak …
“For us to come out and sweep Arkansas is a big confidence booster for us coming into playing Nicholls followed by Alabama this weekend because that is going to be a big series. We’re going to need all of our fans behind us.”

On Alabama …
“We’re a lot more confident now. We’re starting to see the ball a lot more and we’re starting to hit like we should be. Pitching is coming along. We started off with the two of the top teams [Florida and Georgia] so it was rough loses. It kind of put us in a slump, but we’re coming back from that. We’re playing like we should be playing.”