Ninth inning single gives LSU 1-0 win

PLANT CITY, Fla. — A ninth inning pinch hit single by freshman Lauren Delahoussaye coupled with nine shutout innings in the circle by Kristin Schmidt paced LSU to a 1-0 win over Tennessee in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. <br><br> With the victory, LSU (46-14) advances in the winner's bracket and is set to meet the Auburn/Alabama winner Friday night at 6:00 pm.

LSU head coach Yvette Girouard was pleased with her team's effort and intensity throughout the game.


"(Tennessee starter) Stephanie Humphrey kept us off balance," Girouard said. "The ball had no eyes for us. Tennessee came out loose and played a great game. I thought we hit the ball hard early at times, we just couldn't find a crease. You have got to like our team for not giving up and continuing to fight throughout the game."


A pitchers duel throughout, both teams were held scoreless until the bottom of the ninth inning. Following Alicia Owen's led off double opening the ninth, she moved over to third on a groundout by Julie Wiese.


With the winning run on third base with less than two outs, Tennessee elected to walk the bases loaded, putting Leigh Ann Danos and Blair Smith on base. Girouard then chose to pinch-hit for left-fielder Megan Steege with Delahoussaye.


Hitting only .200 for the season, the freshman from Lafayette smacked a 2-1 pitch past Tennessee first baseman Amber Rhinehart scoring Owen to give the Tigers a 1-0 victory.


Girouard was tickled to see her freshman pinch-hitter take advantage of an opportunity to shine.


"I'm just really happy for Lauren Delahoussaye," Girouard said. "She's a kid who comes out every day and gives it her all. She's the last kid in the dugout picking up all the trash, she tries to contribute to the team any way she can. Things haven't quite gone her way this year, but that was a huge hit for her."


Delahoussaye was glad to see her hard work throughout the season finally paying dividends.


"It's something everyone looks forward to for sure," Delahoussaye said of getting the game winning hit. "Any chance you can to do something for the team that really helps out makes you feel good about all the hard work that you do."


Having had problems seeing the outside pitch, Girouard told Delahoussaye what she wanted her to do at the plate.


"I'm pretty sure it was outside," Delahoussaye said of the final pitch. "I've been working on hitting that outside pitch all week because I'm not really good at that and coach Girouard told me to go to right-field. So I waited on the outside pitch and did it."

Due to a bevy of injuries this year, Delahoussaye is the lone remaining pinch-hitter for the Tigers. Every game she knows she must be prepared for the nod at any time.


"Every game I think of it as at any time I can be called," Delahoussaye said. "So I must stay focused the entire game. I'm just thinking that if I get in, I have got to do my job."          


In the circle, Schmidt (31-11) was again magnificent for LSU. She had the complete-game nine inning shutout, giving up only four hits and striking out six while walking only two.


Girouard hopes Schmidt's performance Thursday was a sign of things to come.


"Kristin was awesome," Girouard said. "She threw very well. I think she's going to throw pretty good all weekend. She knows that she's got to carry this workload and I think she's up to the challenge."


Facing sweltering conditions throughout the game, Schmidt said she got stronger as the game moved into the later innings.


"I thought everybody played well today," Schmidt said. "It was a little hot today but I felt better as the game progressed."


With the possibility of facing the Western Division champion Alabama Crimson Tide tomorrow, Schmidt said she is anxiously awaiting to the battle.


"I'm definitely looking forward to the rematch," Schmidt said. "I think we have something to show them."

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