LSU opened it’s Women’s College World Series with a narrow, 2-1 game one victory over UCLA, backed by a complete game from Allie Walljasper and a little luck at the plate.
The Tigers caught a break to score the winning run in the fifth. Connie Quinn was sent home on a single from Amber Serrett, only to have the throw beat Quinn to the plate. Fortunately, the umpire ruled that UCLA catcher Paige Halstead was blocking the plate, and awarded the run to Quinn.
Walljasper held down a UCLA lineup regarded as one of the best in the nation and one which had scored six of the LSU pitching earlier in the season. Although she did not record a strikeout and surrendered eight hits, the line does not give Walljasper enough credit. The Bruins had been averaging over seven runs per game through the first round in the regional and Walljasper’s performance snapped the Bruin’s 11-game home run streak.
She saved her best work for late in the game, when in the fifth and sixth inning UCLA put two runners on while the Tigers held just a one run. Walljasper got out of the fifth with a foul out to first and caught a line drive to end the sixth inning, where the Bruins had runners on second and third.
The lone UCLA run came with runners on second and third with one out, Walljasper was unable to catch a soft liner, knocking the pitch down, allowing the run to score and getting the out at first.
Quinn did turn a potential disaster play into a positive, after dropping a potential third out in the second inning, she was able to gun out UCLA’s Rachel Garcia, preserving the one-run lead at the time. Quinn also led off the fateful fifth inning with a single.
Offensively, it appeared the Tiger were due for a big afternoon when back-to-back doubles by Emily Griggs and Sahvanna Jaquish gave the Tigers a quick one nothing lead with no outs. The next three Tiger batters wouldn’t get the ball out of the infield. In the second, Quinn singled but was thrown out trying to take second. An inning later, Aliyah Andrews was thrown out stealing second on a close call.
LSU should certainly be happy with the win. Walljasper shutting down the Bruin lineup should add even more confident to an already upbeat squad. Both offensively and defensively, the Tigers are going to have to be a little sharper. The offense was held without a base runner the final two innings and the catcher's interference call was a fortunate break. Defensively, maybe simply due to nerves, things could be a little tighter, but the unit did make some good plays and never let things spiral out of control.
The first step in for this part of the tournament was to win game one. LSU did just that and has a moment to breathe, before a daunting matchup with Florida on Friday night.