College Station, TX – The SHU softball team battled to the end but the #20 LSU Tigers broke through with eight runs in the sixth inning to knock off the Pioneers 10-0 at the College Station Regional in the 2011 NCAA tournament, ending a successful 2011 campaign for Sacred Heart. LSU starter Brittany Mack was dominant in picking up her 19th win of the year, striking out ten SHU batters in her five innings of work. The experience at the 2011 NCAA Regional will be the final collegiate games in the careers of six Pioneer seniors: Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA), Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA), Jen Russell (Seymour, CT), Shannon McCoy (Yorba Linda, CA), Jasmin Vicente (Wantagh, NY), and Kylie Abrams (Thousand Oaks, CA).
Sacred Heart (29-21) got one of its two hits of the game in the first inning as freshman Jade Bowins (Frederick, MD) picked up an infield single. However, Mack worked herself out of any potential trouble with back-to-back K's to end the frame.
"It was just really exciting (to play in this regional)," commented Bowins. "I watch these girls on TV, so playing against them was pretty intense. "I'm hoping that after this experience I will be able to be a better leader. I'll be able to prepare (incoming freshmen) for what's in our future."
LSU (39-17) had runners at first and third in their half of the first inning but SHU starter Russell escaped the jam, inducing a pop out and recording a strikeout of her own. The Tigers would have the same scenario in the second frame and eventually had runners at second and third with two outs. Simone Heyward slapped an infield single to plate the first run and a throwing error on the play made the LSU advantage 2-0.
"I could tell that my pitches were breaking different than the way they were back home," commented Russell after the game. "LSU just made really good adjustments. Good teams make good adjustments."
Melissa Tobin (Hudson, MA) led off the Pioneers half of the third inning with a bunt single. Alyssa Garza (Santa Clarita, CA) moved Tobin into scoring position on a fielder's choice but Mack again notched two straight strikeouts to end the frame. The Tigers nearly padded the lead as Simone put a base hit through the middle with a runner on second. However, Froelich came up firing and unleashed a rocket to cut down the run at the plate and keep SHU within striking distance.
The upset bid was put to rest in the top of the sixth as LSU pushed across eight runs on five hits to make it 10-0. All of the momentum belonged to the Tigers as several bloops fell for hits and a controversial tag play at third base went against the Pioneers. Sacred Heart was unable to answer back in the bottom of the sixth as the game ended 10-0 via the run rule.
The loss eliminates the 2011 Northeast Conference champion Pioneers from the NCAA tournament, effectively ending the season.
"This is a tough bracket and everybody here can win," said SHU co-head coach Pam London. "It just didn't work out for us. I'm very proud of the year we had and the girls we have. I want to thank everybody for this opportunity to be here because it was a great experience for us."