By Tiger Rag News Services
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Trying to win its fourth game in as many days, the No. 12 LSU softball team’s magical run in the 2016 SEC Softball Tournament came to an end on Saturday in the championship game, as the No. 8 Auburn Tigers scored four runs in the second to jut out to a solid lead and hold on to win 7-1.
After playing flawlessly for three days, a pair of errors doomed LSU (45-15) in that four-run second Saturday, as the team was only able to plate a run in the third to try and make a game of it late, but not finding the offense it needed to rally in the end. LSU was the first seventh-seeded team to make it to the championship game since 2000, looking to become the first in the new format to win four straight games to claim the crown.
“I’m really proud of how my team played. I thought they played a great tournament,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I’m excited about what’s up next for this program, and I’m excited for tomorrow night to find out what type of draw we get, because I’m excited to see what this team does in the postseason because I think we’re in a really good spot.”
LSU finished with five hits in the game, coming from Bailey Landry, Bianka Bell, Sahvanna Jaquish, Constance Quinn and Amber Serrett. Serrett scored the only LSU run on a wild pitch in the third inning.
Sydney Smith (12-3) suffered the loss, allowing four runs, none earned on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Carley Hoover pitched the next 3.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and a walk, with Allie Walljasper getting two outs and allowing just a hit.
Makayla Martin (12-3) earned the win for Auburn, allowing just a run on five hits, as Rachel Walters came on in relief and pitched two innings, issuing just a walk. Tiffany Howard and Emily Carosone had two RBIs each, with Carosone and Whitney Jordan having two hits each.
In the bottom of the second, a single down the right field line put an Auburn runner on base after a lineout. A strikeout put two outs on the board, but another single to right center put runners at the corners for the opposition.
A stolen base put runners at second and third for Auburn, with a walk loading the bases for Auburn. An error at second allowed the first run to cross to make it 1-0 Auburn. A single through the right side brought in two, as another error allowed a third run to score making it 4-0.
Serrett reached on an infield single to open the top of the third, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Emily Griggs grounded out to second as Serrett moved to third, eventually coming in on another wild pitch to make it a 4-1 game.
Bell legged out an infield single to reach first to open the top of the fourth. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, as a line drive out to center allowed her to tag up and move to third. Unfortunately, she would be stranded there as the next two batters went down in order, keeping the Auburn lead at three runs.
With an out in the bottom of the fifth, a pair of singles put two Auburn runners on first and second. A dribbling single through the right side scored another Auburn run to give the home side a 5-1 lead.
A leadoff double to open the bottom of the sixth put an Auburn runner on base. A diving catch on a bunt attempt was the first out, but on the very next at-bat a two-run home run to right center gave Auburn a 7-1 lead, as Walljasper came on in relief of Hoover. Walljasper would get the next batter to ground out to second and the next to popup to end the inning.
Bell, Hoover and Sandra Simmons were each named to the SEC All-Tournament Team, the most LSU has had on a team since the 2010 campaign.
LSU will now wait to find out its regional fate as the NCAA Selection Show airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. CT on ESPNU.