By TIGER RAG NEWS SERVICES
HARRISONBURG, Va. – The No. 10 LSU softball team took the lead twice, but every time the No. 8 James Madison Dukes rallied back and in the end got a walk-off bases-loaded single with two outs in the seventh to take the 2016 NCAA Harrisonburg Super Regional opener 3-2 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
A run in the second and another in the top of the fifth gave LSU (48-16) the upper hand against a ranked opponent and its sold-out crowd, but JMU (50-4) produced eight hits on the afternoon and never went away as the Dukes were able to weather and storm back in the end.
“Credit James Madison for playing a good game, obviously they are a good team and here for a reason and a solid program,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Our team will be ready to go tomorrow. We’ve been in this spot before and we’ve been able to come away with wins in this situation and we feel like we’re in good shape. We’ve prepared for this, we’re prepared to fight, so as long as we can push to game three I think it can be anybody’s ballgame.”
Sandra Simmons had two of LSU’s five hits on the day, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored on a solo home run, while Constance Quinn had a double with an RBI and Sahvanna Jaquish earning a hit and a run scored.
Carley Hoover (20-8) suffered the loss for LSU in the circle, pitching 6.2 innings and struck out seven with five walks. Hoover tossed 136 pitches in the contest, with 90 for strikes.
JMU’s Megan Good (32-2) earned the win in the circle as she pitched the final four innings in relief of starter Jailyn Ford, allowing just one run and one hit with a pair of strikeouts, as at the plate she kept the Dukes in the game hitting a pair of solo home runs in the third and the fifth to tie the game after LSU had taken the lead.
Hoover opened the bottom of the first with a strikeout, nearly getting a second before a bloop single down the left field line put a JMU runner on first. She was able to get that second strikeout on the very next batter, but a walk put two Duke runners on. Another walk loaded the bases to ratchet up the pressure, but the sophomore would net her third strikeout of the inning to keep the game scoreless.
Jaquish opened the top of the second with a ripped single to left for LSU’s first hit. A sacrifice bunt by Kellsi Kloss moved her to second, but a strikeout put two outs on the board. On the first pitch of her at-bat, Quinn doubled to right center to plate Jaquish giving LSU a 1-0 lead. Amber Serrett followed with a single of her own to left, but Quinn was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
A single for James Madison opened the bottom of the second inning, as a sacrifice bunt advanced the lead runner to second. A walk put two runners on, as on the next play a fielder’s choice forced out the runner at second, but leaving runners at the corners for the second out. However, Hoover fired her fourth strikeout to end the inning.
One swing of the bat in the bottom of the third tied the game at 1-1, as a JMU solo home run that danced down the left field line cleared the fence to re-tie the game. A single to deep short allowed Ford to reach base, as on the next play she stole second, but on the slide to the bag was injured and had to leave the game. LSU would get the lead runner at third on a fielder’s choice and grounder to third to end the inning.
With two quick outs in the top of the fifth, Simmons was down in the count at 1-2 and was on the brink of closing the frame until she lifted one high to left center that cleared the fence for the solo home run to give LSU the lead back at 2-1.
The lead did not last very long as another solo home run to the stands in left in the bottom of the fifth for JMU tied the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, an infield single put a JMU runner on base, as a bunt single put two on for the Dukes. A grounder to first allowed the runners to advance to second and third for the first out, as a walk occupied the open base to load the bases for James Madison. A grounder to Quinn at second allowed her to make the throw home to keep the run from crossing for the second out, but a single to right brought in the winning run to make it 3-2, giving JMU the win.
Game two of the series is set for an 11 a.m. CT first pitch in Harrisonburg Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger softball, visit www.lsusports.net/softball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball along with @lsusoftball and @BethTorina on Twitter and @lsusb on Instagram.