POSTED: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 9:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 10:59pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — The No. 24 LSU softball team used a five-run fifth inning to extend its season’s best winning streak to 12 games and claimed a 6-1 victory over Nicholls State Wednesday at Tiger Park.
Seven of the nine starters for LSU (28-8) recorded hits highlighted by Ashleigh Kuhn and Kailey McCasland, who turned multi-hit performances. Kuhn and Juliana Santos collected two RBIs apiece.
“It’s nice to have an opportunity to play some people and get everybody prepared for a big weekend because you never know who we’ll have to call on this weekend,” head coach Beth Torina said. “It’s nice that they got in, and it’s nice that they hit some balls hard. All of them work equally as hard every day at practice, so it’s nice when they can get an opportunity.”
Tied 1-1 during the fifth inning, the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate. Rikki Alcaraz ignited the rally and laced a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap. Three batters later with two outs, Ashley Langoni drew a four-pitch walk.
On a 0-1 offering, Santos ripped a RBI single to plate Alcaraz with the go-ahead run. Langoni came around to score to make it 3-1 on an error by Nicholls second baseman Ashley Bertot when she dropped a throw during a rundown attempting to get Santos out in between first and second base.
The Tigers continued the hit parade with Ashley Applegate’s single to place runners on second and third base. Kuhn smoked a two-run double into the right centerfield gap to push the LSU lead to 5-1. After a McCasland single put runners on the corners, Morgan Russell capped the frame with a RBI single to vault the Tigers ahead 6-1.
Meghan Patterson fired her third complete game in three starts and improved to 3-0 on the season. The sophomore right-hander was touched up for a first inning run on three hits. She found her rhythm and allowed only three hits the rest of the way. The Destrehan native tallied five strikeouts versus one walk.
“Meghan is a great pitcher herself and extremely talented,” Torina said. “She deserves more innings than we’re even able to give her because we’re trying to fight to give [Rachele Fico and Brittany Mack] so many innings. [Meghan Patterson] is the future of this program. I think early on in this game, she looked a little rusty. She hasn’t been on the mound and hasn’t seen hitters in a while. But she cleaned it up after the first inning and ended up with a pretty nice day.”
Nicholls tallied its lone run during the first inning on a Leah Andrus RBI single. The Tigers responded with the equalizer in the third inning. Langoni blasted a one-out triple off the right field fence and came around to score on a Santos sacrifice fly.
“Starting off, it’s always kind of hard, but you really have to go out there ready to pitch,” Patterson said. “I knew I had to settle down and get sharper with my pitches, so that actually really helped me with them scoring in the first inning.”
LSU travels to face No. 2 Alabama for a three-game weekend series at Rhoads Stadium. Games times are slated for 7 p.m. [Friday – Televised by ESPNU], 1:30 p.m. [Saturday] and 1 p.m. [Sunday – Televised by Fox Sports Network].
All three games of the series will have live audio and live stats inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The games also will be carried live Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe set to call the action.
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.