Wild seventh-inning rally keeps LSU softball team’s season alive

TUCSON, Ariz. — It took a while for the LSU softball team’s bats to recharge Saturday night.

Luckily for the Tigers, it happened just in time.

LSU was held scoreless for five innings but rallied late to advance to the NCAA tournament’s Tucson regional final against Arizona on Sunday after an 8-3 win over Boston University on Saturday night at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The Tigers will need to defeat the Wildcats twice Sunday to advance to a super regional after Arizona beat LSU 9-8 earlier Saturday in the double-elimination tournament.

That the Tigers are even still alive would’ve been a surprise if you stopped watching their matchup with BU before the sixth inning. LSU entered the game with hot bats — the Tigers had 21 runs and six home runs in their first two NCAA tournament games — but Terriers starter Melanie Russell held them to four hits and no runs in the first five innings.

Unlike in the early game, when LSU’s comeback attempt came up short against the Wildcats, the Tigers toppled Boston with clutch late hitting.

Bailey Landry led off the sixth inning with a solo home run — she also hit a home run earlier in the day against Arizona — and LSU put together a bit of small ball and big ball to cap off a stunning seventh inning against Russell and her 2.09 season ERA.

Plus, the Tigers got a bit of a boost from an untimely error.

“They call us the Fighting Tigers, and I understand now more than ever,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “I love the resolve this team showed, coming back in the seventh inning.”

With one out and pinch runner Alex Boulet on first base after an Allison Falcon single, BU shortstop Brittany Clendenny muffed a grounder from Constance Quinn.

Boulet capitalized, advancing to third, and scored a play later on a Jacee Blades RBI single. After A.J. Andrews reached base on a fielder’s choice, Landry again delivered in the clutch, tying the game with an RBI single.

Then the bats really came alive.

Sahvanna Jaquish drilled a three-run homer to center field, Bianka Bell singled to center and Tammy Wray continued her hot hitting with a two-run home run to left, not only capping off an improbable comeback but providing insurance runs.

“I knew we were going to win, regardless,” Jaquish said. “When Bailey hit that tying run, it wasn’t about me; it was about the seniors and what they gave to us. I was in the moment, and it just happened. I was blessed and honored to carry my team over to the next game.”

LSU’s late-game comeback was thrilling but only necessary because its early-game comeback fell short.

The Tigers fought back from 4-0 and 9-4 deficits only to watch things end in disappointingly abrupt fashion as Sandra Simmons was caught at third base trying to advance on a ground out, ending the game.

Now LSU will have to win a pair Sunday at Hillenbrand Stadium, where the Wildcats went 28-2 during the regular season.

“Honestly, outright guts,” Torina said, summing up Saturday night’s rally against BU. “Outright effort. Outright not quitting by our kids.”