Courtesy: Fairfield University

Softball Prepares For Match Up With Nationally-Ranked LSU

Courtesy: Fairfield University
May 17, 2017

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- For the second time in three years, the Fairfield University softball team will open play in the NCAA tournament against a nationally-ranked team. In 2015, the Stags faced #8 University of Alabama. This year, Head Coach Julie Brzezinski will take her team to Baton Rouge for a matchup with host LSU, currently ranked 18th in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll.

The Stags earned the right to face LSU by sweeping through the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship Tournament last week. Fairfield's four-game winning streak in the tournament included wins over third-seeded Marist by a 5-3 score, followed by a 3-0 win over second seeded Siena. The Stags ended their championship run with a pair of wins over fifth-seeded Monmouth University, taking a 4-0 win in the semifinal round and a 2-0 victory in the championship round

The Stags became the first six-seed to win the MAAC tournament since the conference expanded the number of teams from four to six in 2014. The lowest seed to win the tournament since the six-team format was third-seeded Iona in 2014. Fairfield won the 2015 conference tournament as the number two seed.

Pitcher Destinee Pallotto and catcher Tori Reed were both instrumental for Fairfield. Pallotto pitched all but one of the 28 innings played by the Stags and tossed three straight shutouts to earn the tournament's most valuable player. Her final appearance in the tournament resulted in her first collegiate no-hitter, shutting down Monmouth by only allowing one walk in seven innings. She ended the tournament with a 0.78 ERA by allowing three earned runs in 27 innings with 19 strikeouts against just three walks. Pallotto brings a 13-11 overall record with a 2.30 ERA, fanning 99 hitters in a team-high 158 innings pitched.

Reed, who caught every one of Pallotto's starts, also was a key contributor offensively with a team-high .429 batting average with five RBI in the victories. She hit a pair of triples and a solo home run that tied the Marist game at 3-3, a game which the Stags would eventually win 5-3. Her .929 slugging percentage led all of her teammates with 13 total bases in 14 at-bats. Reed enters the NCAA tournament with a .331 overall batting average with a team-high five home runs and a team-best 35 RBI in 51 starts.

Angelina McGuire also hit better than .400 in the tournament, ending her four-game run with a .417 hitting percentage that included five hits in 12 at-bats. She had Fairfield's other two extra base hits, a double and a triple along with four walks. McGuire raised her season batting average to .296 and now has four doubles, three triples, and three home runs.

LSU reached the SEC Tournament final for the second straight season and improved its overall record to 41-18 coming into the NCAA Regional. The Tigers are seeded 13th in the tournament, the third straight season that the program has earned a tournament seeding. All 13 teams from the Southeastern Conference made the NCAA tournament.

Bailey Landry paces the Tigers' offense with a .431 batting average which includes a team-best 84 hits in 59 starts. She also boasts a team-high 19 extra base hits that breaks down to 10 doubles, seven triples, and a pair of home runs.

LSU has 32 home runs on the season with two student-athletes accounting for more than half of those long balls.Sydney Springfield ranks first among her teammates with nine home runs which have led to 37 RBI. Sahvanna Jaquish is next in line with eight home runs, translating into a team-high 53 RBI in her 59 appearances. 

The pitching staff includes Carley Hoover, Allie Walljasper, and Sydney Smith, all of whom have double-digit win totals. Walljasper paces the staff with a 16-4 record, posting staff-highs five shutouts and 133.1 innings pitched. Carley Hoover has allowed 1.08 earned runs per game over her 25 appearances, owning an 11-6 record with 146 strikeouts in 123.1 innings of work. Smith also has 11 wins to her credit in 2017, posting a 2.02 ERA in 101.2 innings of work.

McNeese State University and 14th-ranked University of Louisiana-Lafayette round out the regional bracket and will face each other in Friday's first game (4 pm ET). Louisiana-Lafayette brings a 45-6 record in to this weekend's action, ending the regular season with a 13-game winning streak. The Rajin Cajuns won 23 of 24 Sun Belt Conference games and earned the regular-season and conference championships.

McNeese owns a 42-16 overall record which includes a 24-3 Southland Conference mark which was strong enough to capture the conference regular-season championship. The team has won its last 12 games, highlighted by three Southland Conference tournament wins. 

2017 NCAA Softball Tournament - Baton Rouge Regional

Friday, May 19, 2017
Game 1: 4 p.m ET. – McNeese vs. Louisiana (ESPN3)
Game 2: 6:30 p.m ET. – Fairfield vs. LSU (ESPN3)
 
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Game 3: 1 p.m. ET – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
Game 4: 3:30 p.m. ET – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 5: 6 p.m. ET – Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3
 
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Game6: 2:30 p.m. ET– Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
Game 7: 5 p.m. ET – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6

 

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