State college softball
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In a game in which both teams had just two hits apiece, Florida had the decisive hit to top LSU 1-0 in the first game of the Southeastern Conference softball tournament Thursday at Alabama’s Rhoads Stadium.
Sami Fagan chopped a two-out RBI single over the head of LSU pitcher Brittany Mack and into center field on a hit-and-run play that scored pinch runner Briana Little, who took the place off Bailey Castro, who led off the inning by drawing a four-pitch walk and moved to second on Katie Medina’s sacrifice bunt.
LSU (34-22) is hoping to receive an at-large berth in next week’s NCAA softball tournament. The field will be announced at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
Florida (45-10) will play Tennessee, a 2-1 winner over Auburn, in a semifinal at 2 p.m. Friday. Alabama, which beat Mississippi State 5-2, and Georgia, which beat Kentucky 6-4, will meet at 4:30 p.m. in the other semifinal of the single-elimination tournament.
“We just came up short on the offensive side,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “I thought we pitched a really good game and held a really quality offensive team to one run and two hits. It was a well-played game. Honestly, we just didn’t come up with the timely hit. We had a lot of runners on base and just missed that one timely hit to win it.”
Lauren Haeger (14-4), an SEC All-Freshman, retired the final seven batters she faced to secure the victory. She totaled eight strikeouts and worked around five walks.
Mack (14-4), the SEC’s Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year, had four strikeouts and three walks in her five-plus innings before giving way to Rachele Fico, who sat Florida down in 1-2-3 fashion during the sixth after a Haeger leadoff single.
Mack, a senior right-hander, has received only 12 runs of support in her 11 setbacks.
LSU turned two spectacular inning-ending double plays to keep Florida from scoring in the second and third innings.
LSU had two hits, singles by Morgan Russell and Cassie Trosclair. The Tigers filled the bases during the second and fifth innings. However, Haeger wiggled out of trouble with a strikeout of A.J. Andrews on three pitches and an Allison Falcon flyout.
“I think that hitting is so much about mentality,” Torina said. “The fact that we continue to struggle and struggle is, of course, going to affect their mentality. The strongest people are Brittany Mack and Rachele Fico. They don’t get beat. They don’t stop fighting. I don’t know another pitcher in the country that could put out those kinds of performances with that kind of pressure. They do a great job, so hats off to those two without question.
“We have been trying different things to get the offense back and confident. We will try to think of something new this week.”