Courtesy: Fairfield University

Softball Comes Back Against #18 LSU Before Falling 2-1

Courtesy: Fairfield University
May 19, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Coaches say it all the time - just play your game, stay within yourself and the outcome will take care of itself. And on this day, the Fairfield University softball team did just that against #18-ranked LSU, nearly pulling off an upset in front of a packed stadium before falling 2-1 in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Softball Championship Tournament.

If you looked at the scoreboard, you would see both teams had three hits and both teams had two errors. For once, a scoreboard told the true story in an athletic contest because this game was as good as it can get.

LSU scored all of its runs in the top of the first inning against starting pitcher Destinee Pallotto, who combined with catcher Tori Reed for yet another postseason gem. Fresh off of her no-hitter in the MAAC championship game last weekend, Pallotto kept the Tigers potent offense in check by retiring the side in order three times and not allowing a run over the final five innings she pitched.

The Tigers took advantage of two Fairfield errors in the bottom of the first inning to plate a couple of unearned runs.  Emily Griggs started the inning with an infield hit, and promptly stole second. The throw to the bag ended up in the outfield, allowing the outfielder to scamper to third base. Bailey Landry, the Tigers' leading hitter, drew a walk and went to second with a stolen base putting two runners in scoring position.

Pallotto nearly worked her way out of the jam by striking out clean-up hitter Amanda Doyle for the second out. Shemiah Sanchez was the next batter and hit a ball to the outfield which was misplayed into a three-base error and allowed the two runs to come home.

Fairfield was not rattled by the miscue but rather seemed energized by the challenge of having to come back against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Stags threatened in their next trip to the plate as Kristen Ball earned a walk, but was retired on Gianna Kinhofer's fielder's choice. Molly Roche ripped a double to left center field to put runners on second and third before a ground out ended the inning.

The Stags put another runner in scoring position in the fourth inning when Reed sent a ball to the gap for a double. But once again, LSU pitcher Sydney Smith gained composure and retired the next two Fairfield batters.

With the game still close going to the bottom of the sixth inning, Pallotto did her job as she had all game long by sending the Tigers down in order to give her team one last chance to tie or win the game.

And, Fairfield did just that. Reed led off the top of the seventh by reaching second base on a misplayed grounder that was also thrown past the first baseman, giving the Stags a runner in scoring position. Ball took her place in the batter's box and quickly laced a single to left field that allowed Reed to score Fairfield's first run.  Cynthia Meringer took over for Ball at first base as pinch runner and advanced to second when pinch hitter Kate Robinson grounded out.

With the tying run halfway home, LSU turned to Carley Hoover to stop the Stags. After giving up a walk, Hoover retired the next two Fairfield hitters to end the game.

"it was a little bittersweet," Fairfield Head Coach Julie Brzezinski said. " I think we came out with a lot of intensity. I thought we hung with our pitching. We drove the ball when we needed to drive the ball. Destinee (Pallotto) did an amazing job on the mound, and we hung. We played a great game, but we would have liked to have that win. That would have been great.”

Pallotto finished with two strikeouts and one walk against her three hits allowed in six innings of work. 

"It was -- you know, this time of year, a win's a win, and Fairfield gave us a great game," LSU Head Coach Beth Torina said. "Obviously, they're talented. They've been playing well lately. So they came out and did just that here and really gave us a great game. Congratulations to them on a great game."

Fairfield will play McNeese State University on Saturday at 3:30 pm ET in an elimination game. 

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