Lady Tigers steal thrilling win over Georgia

Clyde Verdin
Photo by LSUsports.net.

Staring down a five-run deficit on Sunday afternoon, the LSU softball team was in the middle of a slugfest against No. 13 Georgia when the Tigers exploded for seven runs, capped by a Kailey McCasland pinch hit two-RBI single with two outs in a seven-run sixth inning, propelling the squad to a 13-11, and series-clinching, victory over the Bulldogs at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge.

Hours after another thrilling finish between the two teams, LSU (24-18, 6-9 SEC) sent 11 batters to the plate in the deciding inning as the Tigers earned seven runs on five hits to take the contest, finally breaking through to take its first and only lead after pulling within one of UGA (35-8, 9-6) on four separate occasions earlier in the contest.

Both teams scored in all but one frame on each side, with four multiple-run innings for Georgia and three for LSU, as the Tigers finished the game outhitting the Bulldogs 13-10. The Tigers also found ways to bring in runners when it counted most, stranding just seven while Georgia left 12 on base over the course of the game.

“Hats off to our offense today. They never stopped fighting,” head coach Beth Torina said. “. They never quit. They had heart the whole game, and that’s what we needed them to do all year long. Today was the day they showed up, and it was a good day to do it.”

Twelve different Tiger batters recorded at least one at bat against the Bulldogs and combined with season-best afternoons from Tammy Wray and Kellsi Kloss, the team got its biggest hits from its reserves in McCasland and Dylan Supak, who both connected on key hits to seal the win for the Tigers in the end. McCasland went 1-for-1 with two RBIs while Supak was 1-for-1 with an RBI as well.

“I was just looking for an outside pitch,” McCasland said. “I just needed to get the ball to the right side so we could score the runner at third and second. It worked out.”

One of four players to earn multiple hits and just one of two with three, Kellsi Kloss tied all of her seasons high’s on the afternoon in finishing a hit short of the cycle with a single, double and eighth home run of the season to go with her four RBIs and three runs scored. Wray tied her career high for hits with a double included in her three-base knocks, tying season highs with two RBIs and a run scored with a walk.

“I think this game shows us what we are capable of now,” Kloss said. “There is no excuse for us not to score that many runs every game now. Georgia is a great team. I have to give them credit. They hit well and pitch well too. We now know what we are capable of. I’m not saying we will score 13 runs every game, but we know we are capable of it.”

Constance Quinn was the last LSU player to earn multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Bianka Bell got it done both in the field and at the plate, going 1-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, with A.J. Andrews earned one hit and scored once in getting walked three times Sunday. Alayna Falcon had an RBI coming in the sixth, while last night’s hero Jacee Blades scored once and was walked twice.

Sandra Simmons scored just one run on the day, but her run was the biggest, as she matched a rare feat becoming the second player in team history to steal home in a game. Coincidentally, the last time LSU had a player steal home was on April 30, 2010 as Kirsten Shortridge did the same against Georgia to break a 3-all tie in an eventual 5-3 win.

With 11 runs scored on 10 hits for Georgia, the LSU pitching staff was able to withstand and persevere and earning the win in the end was Kelsee Selman, who walked two and got the final two batters to go down in order in the top of the sixth to improve to 5-2 on the season. Starter Ashley Czechner pitched 2.1 innings and gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts, while Baylee Corbello allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits with three walks in three innings.

Unlike yesterday, where the UGA pitching staff looked sharp until the final few innings, the Tigers got to Bulldog pitchers and did not stop from the jump as Geri Ann Glasco was tattooed for nine runs on eight hits with four walks and a strikeout in 2.1 innings to fall to 14-3 in the loss. Starter Chelsea Wilkinson threw 3.2 innings and allowed four runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts. Combined, they walked nine LSU batters and struck out only two.

Georgia’s Paige Wilson went 4-for-4 for the Bulldogs with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Samantha LaZear went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Katie Brown hit the fourth home run for Georgia in the series, going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.