(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:11 AM
Once again, McNeese State was one bad inning away from showing it could hang with one of the nation’s elite at home. One disastrous inning.
A record crowd of 1,035 at Cowgirl Diamond was taken out of the equation by No. 11 LSU with a five-run outburst in the fourth inning that propelled the Tigers to a 7-1 win.
For the Cowgirls (32-11), it was reminiscent of their 5-1 loss to then-No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 20. A four-run first inning by the Ragin’ Cajuns was the difference in that contest.
“You can’t give up big innings like that,” said McNeese coach Mike Smith. “I don’t know if our team can rise to play the big teams yet. I don’t know if we’re there. But there’s the potential if we win our conference tournament that we’ll face these guys again at a regional.
“You can’t give up a five-spot in an inning against a team like that and expect to win. That’s where we need to be, and that’s not where we are at right now.”
LSU (36-9) led 2-1 after three innings but busted loose in the fourth against freshman pitcher Jamie Allred (15-4).
A.J. Andrews’ two-run single got things going for the Tigers before a three-run blast by Bianka Bell over the wall in left-center provided the exclamation point.
“You can’t miss spots against good-hitting teams and expect to be successful,” Smith said. “You can in some of our conference games and some nonconference games and get away with it. But you can’t against top-25 teams. They’re going to take advantage of it.”
Andrews was effective all night at the top of the order, reaching on three hits and an error and scoring three runs.
“A.J. Andrews was fantastic today,” said LSU coach Beth Torina. “When Andrews is on base, it’s tough to throw her out. Her and Jacee Blades put so much pressure on defenses at the top of the order.”
Torina said it was important for the Tigers to get to a good start before the Cowgirls could gain momentum from the capacity crowd. Andrews’ runs on RBI singles in the first and second helped LSU set that tone.
“It is really important to come out and score early and control the game at our pace,” Torina said. “They’ve been in this spot a few times this year, but they understand how to do this well. McNeese State is a really good team, and it’s not something where we felt comfortable at any moment.”
Ashley Modzelweski put a charge in the crowd with a monster solo home run to left in the bottom of the second, but that’s as much success as McNeese would have against LSU pitcher Meghan Patterson (6-2), who allowed one run on three hits.
“She kept us off-balance,” Smith said.
Six consecutive Tigers reached base in the pivotal fourth inning after Tammy Wray opened the inning with a fly out to left. The inning did not come to an end until Wray came up again, this time popping out against Cowgirls reliever Meagan Bond.