LSU rallies past Georgia

The LSU softball team broke loose for seven runs in the sixth inning, capped by Kailey McCasland’s pinch-hit, two-run single with two outs, to erase a five-run deficit and spark a 13-11 win over No. 13 Georgia to clinch the series on Sunday at Tiger Park.

LSU sent 11 batters to the plate in the deciding inning, finally breaking through to take its only lead after pulling within one of Georgia (35-8, 9-6) four times earlier in the contest.

“Hats off to our offense today. They never stopped fighting,” LSU 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.”

LSU (24-18, 6-9 Southeastern Conference) got season-best afternoons from Tammy Wray and Kellsi Kloss but got its biggest hits from reserves McCasland and Dylan Supak, who both connected on key hits to seal the win. McCasland went 1-for-1 with two RBIs, while Supak was 1-for-1 with an RBI.

LSU trailed 11-6 going into the bottom of the sixth before Constance Quinn singled to score Simone Heyward, and Kloss doubled to score Quinn and Bianka Bell to make it 11-9.

From there, Sandra Simmons reached with a walk to put runners at first and second, and Allison Falcon flied out to center to advance both runners. With two outs, Wray singled to third to score Kloss and put runners at the corners.

In the next at-bat, Jacee Blades walked to take first, and Alex Boulet took off for second as a throw from the catcher allowed Simmons to steal home to tie the game at 11.

With Boulet at third and Blades at second after the play, A.J. Andrews drew an intentional walk to load the bases. That set up McCasland’s game-winning hit through the right side.

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

Kloss tied all of her season highs, 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 and three singles, while tying season highs with two RBIs, a run scored and 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.”

LSU’s Kelsee Selman 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, giving 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.

Georgia’s Geri Ann Glasco gave up nine runs on eight hits with four walks and a strikeout in 2.1 innings to fall to 14-3. Starter Chelsea Wilkinson threw 3.2 innings and allowed four runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts. Combined, they walked nine and struck out only two.

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 Browne hit the fourth home run for Georgia in the series, going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.

Browne homered to left to give the Bulldogs a 5-2 lead in the third, and a walk to the next batter ended Czechner’s day as Corbello came on and gave up two hits but got the next two after that to fly out to left to end the frame.

The Tigers came back in the bottom of the fourth with a pair of runs to make it 5-4 before Georgia responded in the fifth with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to go up 7-4.

Kloss’ two-run shot in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to 7-6 before Georgia scored four runs on two hits and an error to take an 11-6 lead in the top of the sixth.

“I have been a part of some pretty cool games where we pull out awesome wins, but this game was something special,” Wray said. “The fact that every single person in the lineup, starters and non-starters, just stepped, did their role, and did it so well.”