BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU softball team needed only two innings to put up seven runs, while getting a one-run, four hit performance out of starter Kelsee Selman as the Tigers defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 7-1 to sweep the series and lay claim to the longest winning streak in program history Sunday at Tiger Park.
With a slim two-run lead, the Tigers (25-0, 3-0 Southeastern) put five on the board in the bottom of the fourth to put the game out of reach for good, as the squad earned eight hits against the Razorbacks (12-10, 0-3) on the afternoon, earning four from the leadoff batter of the inning to set the tone early. The team now owns the record for the longest winning streak for any Tiger softball team, while owning the second longest for any team at LSU, second to only the 26-straight the LSU men's basketball team had in the 1980-81 season.
“They get to tonight to celebrate. And then they have to wake up in the morning and pretend that they are 0-25 and that is how we work,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We try to work like we are at the bottom and practicing everything we can to earn our place. We also try to take nothing for granted and go back to work right away.”
Six Tigers accounted for eight of the team's hits on the afternoon, led by Sahvanna Jaquish who hit her second grand slam of the season in a 2-for-4 afternoon with four RBIs and a run scored. After claiming the hitting streak record, sophomore Bailey Landry extended it even further in registering at least one in 17-straight games, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored.
“At first, my heart started racing. I really stayed within myself, and I told myself that a base hit is what I wanted to get,” Jaquish said. “I wanted to hit it hard, I didn't know it was going to go out.”
The stat line for Bianka Bell was 1-for-1 with a run scored, but her weekend at the plate was enough for her to be the recipient of two intentional walks in three total on the day, as LSU drew eight as a team against Razorback pitching. A.J. Andrews, Kellsi Kloss and Sandra Simmons had the other three hits for the team.
Former Hudson Hornet Selman (5-0) earned the complete-game win in her longest outing of the season on Sunday, pitching seven complete allowing an unearned run, scattering four hits with a season-high nine strikeouts and two walks. The sophomore tossed 124 pitches in the victory, as by the time Arkansas scored their only run of the weekend in the fifth, her offense had already spotted her six more.
“It's definitely a blessing. It's something that not many teams have,” Selman said. “There are a lot of teams that don't have an offense that can cause a whole lot of damage like that so it's definitely a blessing.”
Grace Moll (0-3) took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits with a strikeout and six walks in 3.1 innings of work, with Sydney Wright pitching the next 2.2 allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Devon Wallace had two of Arkansas' two hits in the contest, with an RBI.
After Arkansas got a hit and put two on in the top of the first, Andrews came through in the bottom half of the inning and singled to right. A sacrifice bunt by Landry moved her to second, as Bell was intentionally walked to put two on. An illegal pitch moved both into scoring position, but a strikeout and fly ball to center ended the inning for the Tigers.
Simmons opened the second with a low, ripped single through the middle of the infield to take first base. Dylan Supak earned a walk to put two back on for LSU, as a wild pitch allowed the two to move up a base. Quinn grounded out to short allowing Simmons to score, as Supak came in on a passed ball to make it 2-0 Tigers.
Bell opened the third with a single to right to open the frame. Jaquish followed suit with a single to right center to put two on, as Kloss walked to load the bases. Unfortunately for the team, a shallow fly to short was the first out, as an infield double-play ended the threat for Arkansas.
With an out in the fourth, consecutive walks to Griggs and Andrews put two runners back on for LSU, and after getting to a 3-0 count took two strikes before Landry connected on a shot to left center scoring Griggs to make it 3-0 on the double. After a pitching change, Bell drew another intentional walk to load the bases for LSU, and that proved to be a costly mistake as Jaquish blasted one over the fence for the grand slam as the Tigers took a commanding 7-0 lead.
Arkansas broke through for the first time all weekend in the top of the fifth, as a walk and an error put two on for the Razorbacks. A fielder's choice put runners at the corners, with a single to right driving one in for the only run of the frame with LSU leading 7-1. The Razorbacks got a pair on in the seventh after two hits, but with two outs the Tigers closed the door with a fly out to center to end the game.
“Honestly, the coolest part about it is being the best start of a LSU sports team,” Torina said. “I think the history of LSU Athletics and the coaches and the players that have come through here, having that recognition is really cool. I have so much respect for everything this athletic department has done, so to have that tag line is cool, and a really nice thing. I think that 25 wins is a nice set up for the post season and trying to get a regional here at home, but those are really the only benefits to having the start that we do.”
LSU will now prepare for its first league road series of the year next weekend, traveling to Gainesville to square-off with the defending national champion Florida Gators.