Tigers edge Bulls on 'gutsy' run home by freshman
OKLAHOMA CITY -- LSU's coach was surprised. The batter was surprised. The USF infielder who caught the ball was surprised. The three surprising words that ended USF softball's season Saturday? Infield sacrifice fly.
LSU freshman A.J. Andrews, a speedy outfielder from Countryside, took a gamble and scored on a bases-loaded pop fly to short, providing the only run in the Tigers' 1-0 victory that eliminated the Bulls from the College World Series.
"I've been in softball for a long time, seen a lot of things," LSU coach Beth Torina said. "I don't remember if I've ever seen that before, but it was a pretty amazing, gutsy play by A.J. -- not me."
USF's infield was playing in, hoping for a force at home or double play with one out, and Allison Falcon's pop fly sent USF shortstop Kourtney Salvarola back toward the outfield, her back turned to the plate when she made the catch. Andrews took off, and Salvarola -- admittedly "obviously pretty shocked" -- sent the throw home just wide, allowing the run to score.
"No, I was not told to go," Andrews admitted. "She said 'Tag,' but I guess that doesn't mean go. But really, I think because she was facing backwards, my instinct is just to try it. It was a really close game. So I knew that it would come down to s omething really close, like a close play."
Just as LSU won the game with a risky break, USF lost its best chance at a run with a gamble at third base. Outfielder Ashli Goff led off the third with a walk, stole second and saw the throw sail into centerfield, then saw the throw to third get away. In a split-second, she took off for home, even with no outs and the top of the order up for USF. LSU pitcher Brittany Mack, who was astutely backing up third, threw home and Goff was tagged out.
"Ashli got an aggressive baserunning deal. Their catcher made a great play at home plate," USF coach Ken Eriksen said. "That's one of those things that you play and you play and you play. It's a chess game, and somebody's just going to king it. They got their break today, and they kinged it."