UA softball shut out by LSU in event finale
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Despite a solid effort in the circle, the 14th-ranked Arizona softball team dropped its final game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, a 3-0 shutout against No. 11 LSU (14-1). The Wildcats finished the tournament 2-3 and moved to 10-5 on the season.
Arizona’s pitching duo of Nancy Bowling and Shelby Babcock held LSU to just three hits on the day, none after the second inning. The Tigers had just one base runner in the final five innings of the game.
By then, however, it was too late. LSU took a two-run lead three batters into the game with an Allison Falcon two-run homer and added to the lead with a two-out RBI double in the second inning.
Bowling was effective in four innings in her second career start. The freshman gave up three runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five. The loss dropped Bowling to 2-1.
Babcock entered in the fifth inning and was brilliant, needing just 41 pitches to retire the nine batters she faced. The junior struck out three in three innings.
The offense, however, could not support its pitchers. The Wildcats, who outhit the Tigers 4-3, were not able to capitalize on a plethora of opportunities and were shut out for the third time in the event.
Arizona had two on with one out in the first and sixth innings and also stranded a leadoff double in the fifth. The Wildcats stranded six runners in the game and left a staggering 35 on base in the tournament.
LSU pounced in the top of the first. Jacee Blades worked a 1-2 count to eight pitches before recording an infield hit with one out. The next batter, Falcon, worked a 1-2 count full before homering to left field to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
It was the third consecutive game in which Arizona allowed runs in the top of the first inning.
After UA stranded a pair in the bottom of the first, Bowling walked the first batter she faced in the second. After a sacrifice bunt, A.J. Andrews doubled Kellsi Kloss home with two out to give LSU a 3-0 lead.
The only LSU base runner from that point forward reached via a one-out walk issued by Bowling in the fourth. Meanwhile, Arizona put runners on in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but could not score.
With the tournament over, Arizona returns home to host the Wildcat Invitational from March 1-3. The Wildcats welcome UC Riverside, Boston University and Portland State to Hillenbrand Stadium for the three-day, 10-game event.