Day One: Wednesday, March 3
LSU 6, Mississippi State 2
LSU 6, Mississippi State 0
Tigers extend streak to 15
After a hard fought 6-2 win in game one of the double-header against Mississippi State, the LSU Tigers erupted for six runs the final four innings in the night-capper for a 6-0 victory.
Coming off of the NFCA Tournament Championship, LSU head coach Yvette Girouard said her team started off flat, but good teams find ways to win even when they don't play well.
"As good as we played last weekend we started off a little flat out there," Girouard said. "But we got two wins and we'll take them. They may have been ugly but they count as W's in the column."
The Tigers (20-3, 2-0 SEC) jumped on the Bulldogs with a pair of runs in the third inning. After Bulldog starter Kelli Miller retired Camille Harris, LaDonia Hughes reached on an infield single and was thrown out on a fielder's choice by Lauren Castle.
Freshman left-fielder Leslie Klein launched a Miller pitch deep over the center field wall for a two-run homerun, her sixth of the season, to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. The Tigers pushed throw another run in the fourth inning on a RBI single by Harris and would score three more runs over the final three innings to come away with the 6-0 victory.
One of the more modest players for the Tigers, Klein said she was surprised with her sixth homer of the season.
"I didn't even think it was going out," Klein said of her homerun. "I had struggled last weekend and I was looking to come back here and hit the ball well again."
Meanwhile in the circle, freshman Emily Turner (8-1) continues to progress nicely with each start she makes. The Chula Vista, California native picked up the complete game shutout victory, giving up three hits and striking out three while walking only two.
Never questioning the raw talent she has, Girouard said she likes the way her freshman phenom is continuing to learn and improve in the circle.
"She controlled the hitters," Girouard said. "That's the objective when you're pitching. The number one objective is to get a strikeout and the second is to control you hitters and that is what she did tonight."
Turner said she is beginning to understand what the coaches have been trying to teach her.
"I'm very excited about this win," Turner said. "I did my job out there tonight. I controlled the batters and that is all the coaches ask of me. I know that my defense can take care of me in the field."
A strikeout power pitcher in high school, Turner is adapting to the fact that she cannot throw it by every hitter on the college level.
"I'm perfectly fine with 21 groundouts or fly-outs," Turner said. "I have confidence in my defense and my teammates. I don't need to strike everybody out. I just want to help us win."
LSU rallies for impressive victory
Overcoming an uncharacteristic two errors that led to two unearned Bulldog runs, the Tigers beat Mississippi State 6-2.
First baseman Jennifer Waterman led off the second inning with a single into left field that got under the glove of Klein and allowed Waterman to advance all the way to third.
After Kristin Schmidt retired the next two batters, she gave up a bloop single to second baseman Lindsay Nelson to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Mississippi State would score another unearned run in the fourth to extend their lead to 2-0.
The Tigers cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Julie Wiese that scored Klein, who doubled earlier in the inning.
The senior co-captain from Baton Rouge, Wiese said she never worried that the Tigers wouldn't come back.
"I didn't think that anyone in the dugout was too worried," Wiese said. "We know what we can do and we know what we are capable of. We just need to put it together. It took us a little longer than we wanted it tonight, worried the coaches a bit.
"It is just the confidence that this team has. We didn't worry or stress out about it. That is what is so great about this team."
Errors and clutch hitting in the sixth inning ignited a five-run explosion that enabled the Tigers to grab the lead. Shortstop Lauren Delahoussaye and Wiese smacked a one-out singles and Sara Fitzgerald walked to load the bases. Catcher Kristen Hobbs was then hit by a pitch scoring Delahoussaye to tie the game.
The Tigers took the lead for good when Harris lined a single into center field scoring Wiese. Hughes would follow Harris with an RBI single and two more runners would score thanks to two errors on Castle's fielder's choice.
Girouard was happy to see her team come up with the clutch hit in a critical situation.
"The ball had eyes that inning," Girouard said.
Klein said the team's never-say-die attitude is one of the driving forces behind their success start to the season.
"This year our team has done a good job from coming back from behind," Klein said. "We're not giving up. We are not scared at all. We just keep fighting and if we fall behind, we don't let it phase us. We just keep poking away and poking away until someone breaks through."
Schmidt (11-2) was again solid in the circle for the Tigers. The USA Softball and NFCA National Player of the Week picked up the complete game victory, scattering seven hits and striking out four while not walking a batter. Schmidt shined when the Tigers needed her most with a perfect final three innings.
"I just try to go out there and fight until the very end," Schmidt said. "Every game is seven innings and you never know what is going to happen."
Against a very good hitting Mississippi State team, Girouard said Schmidt showed why she is one of the better pitchers in the SEC.
"When I gave her the ball around the fifth inning I told her she needed to rise up and get better and she did," Girouard said.
One of four pitchers used by Mississippi State Stephanie Comeaux (5-3) picked up the loss in the circle for the Bulldogs after giving up two runs in one and one-thirds innings of work.
Day Two: Thursday, March 4
LSU 5, Mississippi State 4
Danos leads Tigers to sweep of Bulldogs
It was junior catcher Leigh Ann Danos' turn to shine Thursday as the Lafayette native went 3-3 with a two-run homerun, leading the Tigers to a 5-4 win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The victory concluded a three-game sweep over the Bulldogs and extended the LSU winning streak to 16 games.
LSU head coach Yvette Girouard said she was happy to come away with the series sweep to start Southeastern Conference play.
"When you're facing Mississippi State it's never pretty," Girouard said. "But I'll take the three wins."
The Tigers (21-3, 3-0) opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Senior centerfielder LaDonia Hughes led of the inning with a single up the middle but was thrown out on a fielder's choice by Lauren Castle. Castle would advance to third on a single by Leslie Klein and later score on a RBI single by Stephanie Hill to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Mississippi State (16-9, 0-3) would answer with a single run the next half inning on a RBI single by designated player Blaire Brown.
As has become the custom this year for LSU, they immediately answered back with two runs in the bottom of the inning. After Julie Wiese led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sara Fitzgerald, Danos gave the Tigers a brief 3-1 lead when she launched a Melissa Massey pitch over the left field wall for a two-run homerun, her second of the season.
Danos credited her familiarity against Massey thanks in the double-header Wednesday as one of the keys to her home run.
"Yesterday I faced her and she threw me all inside pitches," Danos said. "So today on my first at bat I thought she was going to throw me inside again and she did. I was looking for it.
The Bulldogs however, would not go away quietly. Showing why they are one of the best hitting teams in the country, State answered the Tigers pair of runs with three in the top of third inning. LSU starter Kristin Schmidt gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning to Megan O'Nan and Kate Jaspers before surrendering a three-run homer to All-American centerfielder Iyhia McMichael to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.
Girouard said coming into the series she knew how dangerous McMichael was and it was just a matter of time before she had a break-out at-bat.
"The next thing you know we had pretty much shut down Iyhia McMichael the whole series, but she's too good of a player to shut down completely," Girouard said. "I like to think that it is a match-up
LSU rallied to tie the score in the fourth inning. Danos had a seeing-eye one-out bloop singe. Freshman Lauren Uhle pinch-ran for Danos and advanced to second on a groundout by Camille Harris bringing the lead-off hitter Hughes to the plate.
Worried about Hughes speed around the basepaths, Bulldog pitcher Kelli Miller rushed her throw on a weak ground ball and first baseman Jennifer Waterman misplayed it allowing Uhle to score the game-tying run.
Not wanting to see their winning streak end, the Tigers took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning. After striking out, Fitzgerald reached on a wild pitch and stole second base bringing Danos to the plate.
Danos lined a 1-2 pitch into right field scoring Fitzgerald for the go-ahead run.
Danos would finish the game as the Tigers leading hitter, going 3-3 with three runs driven in.
"I was just seeing the ball really well," Danos said. "Some days you come out here and the ball looks like a big beach ball and other days it doesn't. Today it looked big."
Playing in place of the injured Kristen Hobbs, Girouard was happy to see her catcher take advantage of her opportunity.
"I think she took the challenge of not playing as much as she'd like and she came out with a bang this series," Girouard said.
While Schmidt did not pitch well for the Tigers, Turner (9-1) came in at the start of the fourth inning and held the Bulldogs to only one hit.
"We had a huge debate as to who would pitch today," Girouard said. "Good for Emily. She just needs to continue to grow up as we go along.
"Mississippi State always presents you with problems. They are a good change-up hitting team so it takes away one of Schmidt's weapons. Schmidt gets dinked and dunked to death."
Turner said she feels that she is starting to mature with each appearance she makes in the circle.
"I did my job. I put the pitches where they needed to be and let the defense handle the rest of the work," Turner said. "We have the best defense in the country and I have the utmost trust in them the entire time.
"I'm pretty pumped about the way I am pitching. I am pretty relaxed out on the mound, which is a good thing."
Schmidt was excited to see her teammate come in and pitch so well in relief.
"State is a good hitting team and they always hit the ball well," Schmidt said. "Emily came in and did awesome. That is a very positive sign and we are looking good heading into Tennessee this weekend."