Softball Closes SEC Play; Opener Moved to 4 pm
UPDATE: Due to the threat of inclement weather predicted for Fayetteville later Friday night, the opener between the two teams has been moved up to 4 p.m. at Bogle Park in Arkansas.
BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 12 LSU softball team will hit the road for the final time in the regular season and close conference play with a three-game series at Arkansas this weekend in Fayetteville.
The first two games are set for 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, with Sunday’s finale set for a 1 p.m. first pitch at Bogle Park. The games on Friday and Sunday will be streamed online on SEC Network+, as Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Mark Neely and Jenny Dalton-Hill and also available on WatchESPN.
Talk 107.3 FM will carry all three games of the series with Patrick Wright on the call locally in Baton Rouge, with audio available at LSUsports.net in the Geaux Zone for subscribers. Links for audio and video for all three games will be available this weekend at LSUsports.net.
LSU goes into the weekend riding a seven-game winning streak after earning a 5-2 win over the McNeese State Cowgirls on Tuesday night at Tiger Park. The victory improved the team’s overall record to 37-13 on the season, as the Tigers completed the sweep of all 10 non-conference midweek games, while also winning all seven contests against Louisiana teams during the year.
With the postseason just two weeks away, Tuesday’s win was another solid one over a McNeese team that came into the week 38th in the RPI, as LSU will look to continue its hot play as of late this weekend at Arkansas, taking a 10-11 mark against league competition, before closing out the regular season next weekend at home with a high-powered showdown with Washington who is eighth in the RPI.
“I think we’re playing well and I think we’re building our confidence and getting it to where it should be,” head coach Beth Torina said. “It feels like we’ve gotten a chance to catch our breath after going through the gauntlet that is the SEC. Not that you can take any SEC team lightly, but we can definitely tell the difference between earlier in the year and where we are right now.”
On Tuesday night, the Tigers scored four of their five runs over the course of the first two innings en route to the win, pounding out 11 hits in the victory as LSU has won eight of their last nine coming into the series, producing double-digit hits for the fourth time during that stretch as the team has scored fewer than five runs just twice during that time as the offense continues to surge.
Of the 11 hits, nine came from the first four batters in the order as LSU had six hits in the first inning alone and had nine hits through the first 13 batters of the game to set the tone early and get out front of the scrappy Cowgirls who attempted to make a game of it late.
The top four hitters on the night are also the top four hitters on the team in Bianka Bell, Sahvanna Jaquish, Sandra Simmons and Emily Griggs, as the quartet lead the team with 49 hits each. Each one has a batting average at .320 or above right now, sporting double-digit multi-hit games through the year.
The LSWA Player of the Week in Jaquish drove in three on two hits in the win, as she currently has 55 RBIs to lead the group. The junior has driven in three or more RBIs in four of the last five games and five of the last seven, as she currently leads the team with 17 multi RBI contests.
With her three hits on Tuesday, Bell set another program record as she eclipsed the previous total bases record with 469 as she went 3-for-3 in the game. It was the 12th record she captured in her career that she owns or is tied for, as she continues to close in on a few others with six games remaining just in the regular season.
Twirling a no-hitter through four innings, Carley Hoover used a rare midweek start to toss a two-hitter as she improved her record in the circle to 14-6, lowering the team’s overall ERA to 1.77. She leads the team in strikeouts with 161, all coming in 128.2 innings of work.
Sydney Smith leads the staff with a 0.66 ERA, with a 9-2 overall record and six shutouts, while Allie Walljasper is 8-5 with three shutouts and 13 walks allowed. Baylee Corbello is 6-0 in eight appearances with a 2.26 ERA.
Arkansas comes into the contest with a 17-33 record and a 1-17 mark in conference play under new head coach Courtney Deifel. The Razorbacks have lost the last eight heading into the weekend as in the last game of the series against Ole Miss gave up five runs in the seventh in Oxford in a clean sweep of the weekend by the Rebels last Sunday.
LSU has won nine of the last 10 games against Arkansas and the last four overall, earning a sweep of the Razorbacks last year in Baton Rouge. The last time the two teams met in Fayetteville the Tigers took two of three to earn the series victory.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger softball, visit www.lsusports.net/softball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball along with @lsusoftball and @BethTorina on Twitter and @lsusb on Instagram.