LSU 4, Georgia 1
--- by Nick Corbett
Thanks to an outstanding performance by LSU Tigers all-time home runs leader, Bianka Bell, the Georgia Bulldogs saw their improbable run through the Women's College World Series come to an abrupt end in an elimination game against a fellow foe of theirs from the SEC.
The pressure often associated with an elimination game proved no match for Bell as she wasted no time getting the tigers on the scoreboard early in the first inning. After an error by Georgia first basemen Tina Iofesa that allowed Tigers right-fielder Bailey Landry on, Bell stepped into the box and launched a home run to right-center for a quick 2-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the 4th inning, as a result of Georgia's workhorse Chelsea Wilkinson, and LSU flamethrower Carley Hoover's abilities to make timely pitches and work around jams. However in the fourth, Georgia began to show signs of hope when their bats came alive. Alyssa DiCarlo hit a lead off single, and one batter later, senior Alex Hugo hit a one-out double to put runners on second and third. Maeve McGuire grounded into a fielder's choice scoring DiCarlo from third. Unfortunately for Georgia, that's about as far as their scoring would go for the day.
After the Tigers collectively struggled to get much going offensively after the Bell homer in the first inning, Bell stepped back into the box with two outs, in the bottom of the fifth. After striking out in her previous plate appearance, Bell took Wilkinson deep for her second home run of the day, to what looked like the exact landing spot of the first one. With that swing, Bell became the first Tiger softball program in history to hit two home runs in a World Series game, while simultaneously building the lead to 3-1 heading into 6th.
The Tigers added an insurance run at the bottom of the sixth, when speedy pinch runner Akiya Thymes came around to score easily on a Constance Quinn double to make the score 4-1. Of course, the insurance run ended up being unnecessary, as Hoover was masterful down the stretch, retiring the final eleven Georgia batters to seal the Win for LSU.
LSU now moves on to the National Semi-Finals to take on a tough Oklahoma team, which advanced by beating the 2-seed Michigan Wolverines.
Auburn 4, Florida State 3 (F/8)
--- by Niesha Middlebrooks
Florida State and Auburn faced off to see who would be the first to advance to the championship round of the 2016 Women's College World Series. From the jump, both Kaylee Carlson and Meghan King started off rocky as they each omitted runs to be plated as they looked to put their teams in position to win. Alex Powers powered home a run in the top half of the inning, and Carlee Wallace followed that up with a three-run bomb, scoring herself, Emily Carosone and Tiffany Howard to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
FSU would respond in the second inning after putting the bat on the ball. Courtesy of Morgan Kalevemann, the 'Noles narrowed the margin after she hit an RBI triple. Jessica Warren would follow suit and knock Klaevemann home with a single, and before you could even blink: The game was tied.
Oh! But they didn't stop there!
In the top third inning, Auburn brought in a new pitcher, Makayla Martin, in hopes of snuffing the Seminoles out. Florida State had other ideas as Cali Harrod would draw a walk, and stole second and reached third after an overthrow by Carlee Wallace. Carsyn Gordon would then give FSU a 4-3 lead after an RBI single continuing the ambitious volley between the two clubs.
Auburn wasn't going to give up easily, however. After manufacturing good at-bats with singles and walks galore, Jade Rhodes got into one, and with one swing of the bat, Auburn was back on top after a three-run homer. To put the craziness of the first three innings into perspective, there were a total of four lead changes in those frames alone.
Kasey Cooper set a school record in the bottom of the fourth inning by hitting her 20th home run in the season to give Auburn a 7-4 lead. FSU could have done some damage in the sixth inning, Auburn's defense wouldn't allow it. Victoria Draper made an ESPN Top 10-like diving catch to rob Klaevemann of at least a double and possibly two runners as well.
The Seminoles left the bases loaded with a flyout to keep the damage to nothing for the Tigers.
But just when you thought the game was over, FSU showed that why you couldn't sleep on them. Harrod belted a three-run home run to tie the game at seven.
The Tigers would be unable to win the game in the bottom of the seventh, so they moved on to extras against the Seminoles. In the bottom of the eighth, Auburn finally ended the affair after Whitney Jordan reached base to score Morgan Podany.
Oklahoma 7, LSU 3
--- by Christopher Novak
LSU's steadfast attempt of winning two games in one day to force a decisive elimination game Monday fell short as the Tigers were taken down by the Oklahoma Sooners late Sunday night/early Monday morning. The Sooners, who have yet to take a loss in the Women's College World Series round, defeated the Tigers 7-3 to make it back to the WCWS final for the first time since they won back in 2013.
OU built up a 3-0 lead with big hits by the likes of Shay Knighten, Kady Self and Caleigh Clifton in the second and third innings. In the bottom of the third however, LSU looked like they would once again pull a rabbit out of their hat as they scored a three-run game-tying home run off the bat of Sahvanna Jaquish.
However, it wouldn't take long for their dreams to be dashed. Erin Miller knocked a two-run single in the ensuing inning and would later score on a wild pitch to put the Sooners up two. Knighten then delivered a knockout blow in the sixth as she continued her monster postseason with a solo shot to push the lead up to four.
The loss bitterly ends what was a terrific campaign for LSU who netted a 50-win season in 2016. Their efforts, dating back to the SEC Tournament, haven't gone unnoticed and they should no doubt be a player in 2017 again.
With the win, it means that Oklahoma will challenge Auburn for the national championship. The Women's College World Series starts on Monday and we'll have full coverage here on TSK of the event. Stay tuned.