BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) - With the tying run on second base and no outs during the seventh inning, Rachele Fico slammed the door to record the final three outs in order as the No. 21 LSU softball team secured a 3-2 victory over South Carolina Friday in-front of 1,429 fans at Tiger Park.
In the process, LSU (36-15, 17-9 SEC) claimed its 10th consecutive victory and has emerged with wins in 21 of its last 24 games dating back to March 19. The Tigers also vaulted into sole possession of fourth place in the overall SEC race after Georgia and Kentucky both lost Friday.
Following the game, LSU honored Ashley Applegate, Jessica Mouse and Tiffany Shaw with a Senior Night presentation. The trio has accounted for 159 wins during their Tiger careers.
“It was about the seniors tonight. I’m glad people waited after,” head coach Yvette Girouard said. “We’ve done this now because it’s way too emotional at the beginning of the game. I thought we looked great for about three or four innings, and then I did not like the tempo of the game. All of sudden everything just slowed to a snail’s pace, and we stopped capitalizing.”
Fico opened her second save of the season with an 11-pitch strikeout of Hannah Milks. She followed with a popout and a ground ball on the infield to secure the 3-2 triumph. It was Fico’s seventh career save and ties her with former All-American Kristin Schmidt for second place in program history.
Brittany Mack went the first six frames and was touched up for two runs, one earned, on five hits. She notched six strikeouts against three walks and improved to 17-5 on the season. The junior right-hander has won 12 of her last 14 decisions going back to March 19.
“I have to be ready to go in the game at any given moment,” Fico said. “Brittany threw a great game, and that’s what I’m here for; I’m here to have her back. She’ll come in and do the same thing for me. We work very well together. We offset each other very well.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 advantage during the first inning. Simone Heyward coaxed a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a Juliana Santos sacrifice bunt.
On the first pitch of the at-bat, Anissa Young cranked her 10th home run of the season. It’s the second straight game that Young put LSU ahead 2-0 with a first inning dinger. The long ball was the 26th of her career and tied Young with Stephanie Hill for seventh place on the program’s all-time list.
LSU added another run in the second inning after another Heyward walk. She stole second base and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Ashley Langoni ripped a RBI single to left field to extend the lead to 3-0.
South Carolina (26-28, 6-20 SEC) tallied a pair of single runs during the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. After a Laura Mendes RBI single in the fifth, the Tigers alertly cut down Lauren Lackey at second base for the final out of the frame.
The Gamecocks used a Lauren Houston passed ball and throwing error to set up a Dana Hathorn sacrifice fly to draw back to 3-2.
“We always look for the next play on defense, so that’s what we did,” Young said. “I know towards the end of the game we kind of fell off and got away from our [offensive] plan we had at the beginning. We’re going to come back work hard and try to execute tomorrow like we did in the first two innings.”
Game two of the series is slated for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with live audio and live stats available in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The first 1,000 fans receive a commemorative Yvette Girouard mini poster.
The contest will be carried live on ESPN 104.5 FM with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe calling the action. The middle game of the three-game set also will be televised by CST with Lyn Rollins and Cheri Kempf serving as the announcing team. In-game updates are provided via the program's social media pages at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and www.Twitter.com/LSU_Softball.
The Tiger Park Ticket Booth opens 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission. Tickets also are available online at www.LSUtix.net.