UL Softball Defeats Texas St, 9-7, Advances To SBC Title Game
The 9th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun softball team was victorious in postseason play on Friday, defeating the Texas St. Bobcats, 9-7, in the third day of play in the 2016 Sun Belt Softball Championship at Jaguar Field in Mobile, Alabama.
Louisiana, the regular season league champions, and the top-seed in the tournament, used a 4-run third inning, followed by a 3-run fourth inning, to help them to the 2-run victory, over the third-seeded Bobcats.
The win marked the fourth-straight for the Cajuns over Texas St., after sweeping a three-game series from the Bobcats earlier this year at Lamson Park.
More importantly, the triumph earned Louisiana a spot in the Sun Belt Tournament softball title game for 9th-consecutive year, and the 15th time in the 17-year history of the tournament.
The Cajuns, who are now 52-8, all-time, in the tournament.
The two teams will play again, in a winner-take-all title game on Saturday a 1 o'clock, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to an NCAA Regional.
Texas St. bounced back and defeated Georgia St., 9-1, to earn a spot in Saturday's title game.
Louisiana is seeking their 18th-consecutive bid, and 26th in the last 27 years.
The Cajuns are one of only 9 programs to appear in an NCAA Regional every year since 2000, joining Alabama, Arizona, Florida St., Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Washington.
Louisiana got on the scoreboard first, pushing across a run in the top half of the first inning, when senior second baseman Hayley Hayden doubled, and later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior catcher Lexie Elkins, to grab a quick 1-0 lead.
Texas St. took the lead in the bottom half of the frame, when second baseman Kelli Baker walked, and scored on a double by shortstop Ariel Ortiz, who advanced to third later scored on an illegal pitch, and later scored on a throwing error, to take a 2-1 advantage.
The Cajuns grabbed the lead right back in the top half of the third inning, scoring 4 runs on 5 hits, including a solo home run by senior outfielder Shellie Landry, her 15th of the season, and a run-scoring doubled off the bat of sophomore shortstop D.J. Sanders, to take a 5-2 lead.
The Bobcats came right back with a 4-run frame of their own in the bottom half of the third inning, scoring 4 runs on only 1 hit, helped out by 5 walks, to regain the advantage, 6-5.
Louisiana, in a see-saw affair, responded with 3 runs in the top half of the 4th inning, courtesy of a 3-run homer by senior first baseman Kelsey Vincent, her 12th of the season, to take an 8-6 lead.
The Cajuns widened their lead in the top half of the 5th inning, when freshman third baseman Kara Gremillion tripled, and later scored on an error, to extend their lead to 9-6.
Texas St. got closer in the bottom half of the 5th inning, scoring one run, behind two walks and two singles, to trim the deficit to 9-7.
The Cajuns, who outhit the Bobcats, 11-4, were led at the plate by Landry and Vincent, who both homered, while sophomore outfielder Aleah Craighton and Sanders collected two hits apiece.
Alex Stewart (27-4) recorded the win in the circle for Louisiana, allowing 4 hits and 7 runs, including three unearned runs, while walking 9 and striking out 5 in 5 innings of work.
Macie Smith worked the 6th and 7th innings, to record her second save of the season.
Randi Rupp (28-11) suffered the loss for Texas St., allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, in 4.2 innings of relief.
With the victory, Louisiana improved to 42-7 on the season, while Texas St. dropped to 38-19.
You can hear all the play-by-play action of Saturday's championship game on Sports Radio ESPN & espn1420.com, beginning with the pregame show at 12:45 pm.