BATON ROUGE, La. - The No. 8 ranked LSU Tigers scored nine unanswered runs to top UT Arlington 9-2 on Friday to complete UTA's opening day of 2018 with a split at Tiger Park.
The Mavericks, having defeated Syracuse 1-0 in the opener earlier in the day, went to 1-1, while LSU improved to 2-0 overall. The Mavericks opened things up with a 2-0 lead behind the bat of Sandra Mendoza, but the LSU bats heated up with a string of singles to top the Mavericks in the Tiger Classic's fourth game of the day.
"The big thing that we talked to them about was that LSU is a good team and were able to play at a faster tempo then we were prepared for," UTA coach Peejay Brun said. "When we have those moments we have to take a deep breath and slow it down, there were times it got away from us. We could have easily rolled over, but they found a way to get out of the bad inning and dug deep to keep fighting."
Brun celebrated her first win at the helm of the Mavericks against Syracuse. Brun was able to see a lot of positives from the pitching staff as well as the defense that she's excited about through the rest of the weekend's competition.
"The first game was great," Brun said. "JoJo did a great job on the mound and stayed with the game plan. The defense played really well behind her. It felt really good because we didn't hit the ball well, but as a team we stuck together and we were able to pull it off."
UTA continues action on Saturday with a doubleheader with games against UMass and Southern Miss beginning at 9:39 a.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Mavs were able to reach base in the first few innings as the offense appeared to be finding their stride. UTA was unable to do anything with Krista Rude reaching on an error, but in the second the offense got the opening scores.
Kjirstyn Murphy knocked her first-career hit with one outs as she sent a liner into right. Back-to-back walks would load things up and Sandra Mendoza singles into center to bring home two. Krista Rude nearly kept the offensive alive, but a good play at third ended the top of the third.
LSU would come right back in the bottom half, scoring two runs on two hits, taking advantage of three walks in the frame. However, after two scored with two outs, a grounder to second left the bases loaded.
"KJ's bat has been hot in practice," Brun said. "She struggled in the first game but knew that if I gave her another shot she would start finding the holes. Randi on the mound, she was a little tired there and we brought her back in and we got her in the game and she kept her composure. Not a lot of kids can go back in and keep her head in there to keep."
Two more runs crossed in the fourth as two-out base knocks plagued UTA. Four hits and an error completed LSU's scoring in the fifth as the home team sent five across the dish.
LEADING THE MAVERICKS:
Murphy was a bright spot in the night cap as she provided her first two hits of her career on a 2-for-3 day at the plate. UTA would end with six hits with hits coming from Mendoza, Whitney Walton, Aileen Garcia and a pinch-hit single by Bri Burchianti.
WHAT'S NEXT ON THE SLATE:
UTA continues action on Saturday when they play a doubleheader with games against UMass and Southern Miss beginning at 9:30 a.m. UTA closes up the tournament on Sunday with a rematch vs. Southern Miss before hosting Texas Tech in the home opener on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
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