No. 11 Softball Caps Road Swing at McNeese
BATON ROUGE – The No. 11 LSU softball team will conclude its eight-game road swing to start the month of April and meets McNeese State Wednesday for the only meeting between the two teams during the 2013 season. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Cowgirl Diamond.
Wednesday’s contest will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live with Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway set to call the action.
LSU (35-9) has won 24 of its 26 previous meetings over McNeese State (32-10). However, all three meetings between the two teams were decided by two runs or less last season.
The Cowgirls have won 19 of their last 22 games dating back to March 2 and has earned sole possession of first place in the Southland Conference standings. Alanna DiVittorio and Emily Vincent have combined for 17 of the team’s 31 home runs on the season. The duo also ranks 1-2 on the squad in batting average and RBIs. Lauren Langner paces the Cowgirls with 49 total hits and is 12-for-16 in the stolen base department.
In the circle, McNeese State has a pair of 15-game winners in Jamie Allred and Meagan Bond. Both hurlers have played a major role in the team’s 1.67 staff ERA, good enough for ninth place in the NCAA rankings. Bond has tallied 139 strikeouts over her 120.2 innings of work, while Allred has fanned 116 during her 116.0 frames to rank second and third on the Southland Conference leaderboard.
“McNeese State is always a tough opponent for us without question and played us three extremely hard-fought games last season,” head coach Beth Torina said. “They’ve been playing well and are very well-coached. Their offense is good and balanced, and they have two solid pitchers. We know we’ll have to play our best game to be successful in Lake Charles.”
The Tigers have won seven of their last nine games and are coming off their fifth straight SEC series victory over then No. 10 Texas A&M a weekend ago. LSU’s offense received RBIs from 10 players during the A&M series.
Bianka Bell continues to swing a powerful bat with a.331 batting average to go along with team-leading 10 home runs and 39 RBIs. She has picked up RBIs in each of her last 11 outings which is program record and has come away with seven of her team-high 10 multi-RBI performances since March 19.
A.J. Andrews and Jacee Blades are the catalysts at the top of the batting order and have combined for 27 multi-hit efforts. Both players picked up RBI singles during the eighth inning of LSU’s 9-6 middle game win over the Aggies. Andrews has hit safely in eight of her last nine games and her 26 RBIs are second on the squad whereas Blades has garnered a team-best .358 hitting clip.
Allison Falcon has secured a .286 batting average, five homers and 25 RBIs. She recorded hits in all three games of the A&M series and belted a two-run dinger during the first inning of the series finale.
Sandra Simmons has tallied a .269 batting average, three home runs and 24 RBIs. She registered nine of those RBIs over her last six appearances which include all three games last weekend versus Texas A&M.
Tammy Wray has had 13 of her 24 hits on the season produce RBIs for the Tigers. She is second on the team with seven homers and has collected a team-leading 25 walks.
“We have been able to step up to the challenges and had RBIs all throughout the lineup last weekend,” Torina said. “Everyone really contributed to the team’s success. After Friday’s game (at Texas A&M), we were able to be a lot more selective at the plate. We were able to decrease our strikeout numbers and do a lot better job with our pitch selection.”
Rachele Fico grinded out a pair of wins over Texas A&M and was touched up for only one earned run over her 12 innings of the series to improve to 22-7 on the season. The senior right-hander has racked up a SEC-leading 198 strikeouts over her 172.1 innings and enters this week’s action 16 Ks away from passing fellow All-American Emily Turner (2004-07) for third place on the program’s all-time list.
Ashley Czechner has won all eight of her decisions on the season. Last time out, she went six-plus innings en route to a no decision during game two of the Texas A&M series.
Meghan Patterson has notched a 5-2 mark to go along with a staff-low 1.69 ERA. She fired 6.2 frames of four-hit ball fueled by seven strikeouts to claim a win over Southeastern Louisiana during her last start on March 26 and struck out the side in a relief appearance versus Samford on March 30.
“I thought both Rachele and Ashley did a great job last weekend at Texas A&M,” Torina said. “Ashley threw a really good game on Saturday, and Rachele was able to come in and close it out. They fought through it. You don’t get to breath with that Texas A&M lineup. They have home runs throughout the entire lineup, one right after the next brings a huge challenge to the plate. We did a good job of keeping them down for the most part especially on Sunday.”
Every game of LSU softball this season will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program’s social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.
LSU’s next home series will be April 19-21 when Missouri visits Tiger Park. Tickets can be purchased online at www.LSUtix.net or on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Friday’s series opener is the program’s “Pack the Park” game with $1 general admission tickets, while Saturday’s contest marks the team’s second annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” event.