Softball falls to Arizona State, 4-1

LAFAYETTE - The third-ranked Tiger softball team fell just short of their second-straight berth in the Women's College World Series with a 4-1 loss to Arizona State in the NCAA Regional championship game on Sunday afternoon at Lady Cajun Park.

With the loss, LSU concludes the 2002 season with a 56-11 record. Arizona State (44-18) will advance to the WCWS in Oklahoma City, Okla., next week to face NCAA Region 7 winner Michigan, which defeated Ohio State, 4-1, on Sunday.

"My hat goes off to Arizona State," said LSU head coach Yvette Girouard. "They did everything they needed to do to win. They will be a great representative for this region at the WCWS."

For their outstanding performances in the regional, seniors Britni Sneed and Aleshia Perry and freshman Tessa Lynam were named to the All-Tournament team for the Tigers.

"Playing three games yesterday definitely took a toll on us," said Girouard. "I don't want to make any excuses for my team because they fought hard out there the whole game. It just wasn't there for us today and it was for Arizona State.

"A team has to have the breaks fall just right for them to advance to the WCWS and it didn't fall quite right for us today or this week."

Britni Sneed took the loss for the Tigers. The two-time All-American finished the season with a 34-7 record. She allowed four runs, only one of which was earned, on 12 hits. Most of the Sun Devil hits came on bloop infield singles, none of which went for extra bases.

She struck out five batters in the complete-game effort. She concludes her career with 1,370 strikeouts, placing her fourth on the NCAA all-time career strikeout list.

Arizona State jumped out with a run in the top of the first. With one out, Nichole Thompson hit an infield single before Kara Brun singled to left field.

With two outs, Erica Beach hit a ball that bounced just off the tip of Sneed's glove for a single. Thompson came around to score on the play as Tiger shortstop Blair Smith kicked the ball into centerfield.

LSU came back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. After a leadoff walk to Trena Peel, April Janzen reached on a fielder's choice sacrifice bunt attempt that failed to get Peel out advancing to second.

An RBI single by Christy Connor down the right field line scored Peel from second and advanced Janzen to third. Erin Johnson then hit into a fielder's choice double-play, one of five double-plays on the day, that got Connor out at second. Janzen was called out on an extremely close play at the plate trying to score.

The Sun Devils threatened again in the top of the second. After a leadoff single by Kristin Farber, she stole second and with one out advanced to third on an infield single by Missy Hixon. Sneed worked her way out of the inning without allowing a run with a ground out and pop fly out.

Arizona State broke through in the top of the fifth inning with a pair of runs. After back-to-back singles to begin the inning, a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with one out.

Brun then hit a fly ball that Perry caught in foul territory down the left-field line. As Jennifer Forner attempted to score on the tag from third, Perry had her nailed at home, but the ball bounced off of Forner's helmet and into the ASU dugout, allowing both runs to score, giving the Sun Devils a 3-1 lead.

Arizona State tacked on one more in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff single by Farber and a sacrifice bunt, Forner reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Farber scored on an infield single by Thompson.

LSU had just three base runners in the final six innings. With one out, Peel singled in the bottom of the third, before Janzen lined into an inning-ending double play.

Wiese walked to lead off the fifth inning, but could reach no further than second. Erin Johnson singled to start the bottom of the seventh, but was thrown out on a Tessa Lynam double-play before Wiese popped up to the catcher to end the game.

The game was the last in an LSU uniform for five Tiger seniors. Sneed, Peel, Janzen, Johnson and Perry completed their eligibility for the LSU.

One of the most successful classes in history, these seniors were a part of four SEC Championship teams and three SEC Tournament Championship teams. They also helped the Tigers advance to four NCAA Regionals and the 2001 WCWS.

"These five seniors have left their mark on LSU and have definitely left LSU softball a better program for their contributions over the years," said Girouard.

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