From LSU Sports
BATON ROUGE – Rachele Fico and Meghan Patterson fired a pair of opening day shutouts as the No. 10 LSU softball team rolled to an 8-0 five-inning victory over No. 22 North Carolina before securing a 1-0 victory against Purdue Friday in-front of 1,303 fans at Tiger Park.
The duo combined for 11 strikeouts and was touched up for just eight hits to fuel their 12 flawless innings. LSU (2-0), under second-year coach Beth Torina, improved to 14-3 in season openers and has emerged with wins during 26 of its last 28 opening weekend home games.
"We saw a lot of good things, and I think we saw two quality opponents today," head coach Beth Torina said. "To do that against those two teams, it's a really good day. Overall, the entire tone of our offense is better. Some of these young kids have come in and just swing hard. I was really happy with our overall team performance today."
The Tigers were clicking on all cylinders out of the gates and exploded for five first-inning runs versus North Carolina.
A.J. Andrews and Simone Heyward set the table with a hit batter and a walk. On a 1-1 offering, Bianka Bell was poised to make her first career at-bat a memorable one and drove a ball towards the right centerfield gap. However, UNC centerfielder Tisha Mahon made a diving catch. On the play, Andrews alertly tagged and scored from second base on a sacrifice fly for the game's first run.
Kailey McCasland followed with another hit batter to put runners on the corners. That brought up Allison Falcon, who laced a RBI-double that one-hopped the left field fence to plate Heyward and extend LSU's edge to 2-0.
McCasland scooted across the plate on a passed ball, and Tammy Wray deposited a two-run homer on the left field berm to cap the five-run frame.
"It felt awesome," Wray said. "I have been working on my confidence big time. All fall long, the whole month before season started until now, that was a big thing for me. I'm not so much focusing on the result as much as I am what is happening at the time. I have been sticking with my plan, and it felt awesome to hit one out."
LSU tacked on three more runs during the third inning aided by a Wray RBI groundout and an Andrews two-run single for the final run-rule margin of 8-0.
Fico, a 2013 All-SEC Preseason-Team and 2012 NFCA All-American First-Team selection, worked around three jams and stranded six of her eight base runners in scoring position. The senior right-hander found her rhythm and struck out four of the last five batters she faced to secure her 23rd career shutout.
"Our offense came out, and they were so explosive," Fico said. "They made my life easier, but I think I got a little too complacent and relaxed having that many runs on the board. When we got into that situation with two runners on base and one out, I was like "OK, I need to bare down here.' I think we definitely got stronger from there. If our offense keeps this up, which they are very capable of doing, that is something that I can definitely get used to. I just have to stay focused."
Eight of the nine starters for the Tigers recorded a hit which included Katie Guillory, who missed the entire 2012 season due to injury.
The three RBIs for Wray matched a career-high and her two-run blast was her first long ball in a span of 131 at-bats since the Sacred Heart game at the 2011 NCAA College Station Regional.
For Andrews, it marked the first time in her career that she produced a multi-RBI effort.
Game 2 – LSU 1, Purdue 0
Patterson started strong and racked up a quartet of Ks as she sat down the six Purdue hitters she faced in order.
"Tonight going out, I wasn't really nervous," Patterson said. "I usually do get a little nervous, but this year Coach (Torina) told me I am going to have to step up. I am not behind (former All-American) Brittany Mack anymore so I am going to have to play my role this season, and I think I did that tonight."
The Boilermakers threatened to dent the scoreboard first after stringing together a leadoff walk and a bunt single to open the fifth inning. Wray made back-to-back sparkling plays to get the lead runners at third base, and Patterson coaxed another strikeout to escape the jam.
In the home half of the frame, Kellsi Kloss cranked the first offering of the sequence onto the left field berm for the game's only run. She became the first Tiger since Anissa Young accomplished the feat in 2009 to connect for a dinger in her first career game.
Patterson kept the momentum from the fifth-inning strikeout and retired the final seven batters she faced in order to wrap up the 1-0 triumph.
"The fact that she (Patterson) was fantastic today, I think she is going to be very difficult to hit because she can do so many different things," Torina said. "She has so many weapons. It's really easy to call a game for her because I have so many options when she is out there. Options wise, she is going to be very tough for people to prepare for and hitters to deal with. I was thrilled with her performance."
LSU returns to action Saturday versus Tulsa at 5 p.m. followed by a 7:30 p.m. tilt with Hampton during day two of the Tiger Classic. The Golden Hurricane is receiving votes in the preseason NFCA Top 25 poll, while the Pirates are coached by former LSU All-American Trena Peel.
Every game of the Tiger Classic will have live stats available inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter. KLSU 91.1 FM will carry Saturday's Tulsa game live.
The first three games of the day pit Purdue against No. 22 North Carolina followed by Tulsa and Purdue along with Hampton and North Carolina beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open one hour prior to the first game of each day. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Season tickets are on-sale for $75 and additional ticket information is available at www.LSUtix.net.
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