From LSU Sports
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 10 LSU softball team was handed a 7-0 loss by Georgia during the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament Thursday at John Cropp Stadium on the University of Kentucky campus.
LSU (40-14) was shutout for only the second time on the season and dropped its third straight decision to the Bulldogs (38-18) over a six-day stretch. UGA advances to face top-seeded and No. 3 Florida in Friday's semifinal round.
The Bulldogs received hits from eight of their nine starters fueled by multi-hit efforts from Kaylee Puailoa and Katie Browne. Chelsea Wilkinson was effective and efficient en route to a five-hit shutout in the circle. She recorded three strikeouts against one walk and improved to 8-4 on the season.
Trailing 4-0, LSU's best opportunity to score came during the sixth inning when A.J. Andrews and Bianka Bell strung together a pair of singles two batters part. However, Sandra Simmons fouled out to right for the frame's final out.
"Georgia definitely deserves a lot of credit," head coach Beth Torina said. "Obviously, they have our number. I didn't think my team played very well today. Of course, I'm not trying to take any credit away from Georgia, but I didn't think we played our best game. I thought we got a better effort on the mound, but I thought we got a worse effort defensively and offensively. One positive about this is that we have a lot more time to prepare for next weekend and get some extra practice days. We're at a point where we obviously need it."
Georgia opened the scoring and took a 1-0 edge in the second inning courtesy of a Katie Browne solo home run to left field. The Bulldogs threatened for more and placed runners on the corners. LSU's catcher Lauren Houston made a diving catch on a foul ball to keep the score at 1-0.
UGA pushed its lead to 3-0 during the fifth inning. With runners on second and third base, Puailoa smacked a two-run single that defected off the glove of LSU's second baseman Allison Falcon and squirted into right field.
The Bulldogs took advantage of LSU's third error of the game and scored an unearned run in the sixth inning. Tina Iosefa and Tess Sito tallied RBIs to spark a three-run UGA seventh to complete the 7-0 win.
LSU's Rachele Fico was issued the loss and dropped to 24-11 for the season. The senior right-hander surrendered seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits. She registered seven strikeouts versus three walks.
With a RPI rating of No. 5 entering the week, LSU will receive an at-large berth in next week's NCAA Tournament. The 64-team field with 16 four-team host sites will be announced Sunday at 9 p.m. televised by ESPNU.
Every game of LSU softball this season will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program's social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.
"Honestly, we're in the identical situation as last season," Torina said. "We were swept in the last series of the year and lost the first game in the conference tournament, the identical scenario. We went back to the drawing board when we got back, and we used the extra practice days to our benefit to refocus our team. I have a team that's talented enough to go to the College World Series. Without question, we have every aspect of what it takes to be there. We have offense, we have pitching and we have great defense. We've shown that throughout the year so that's our plan."
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