UL Softball Wins SBC Tourney Title, Defeats Texas St., 12-0
The 9th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun softball team captured another tournament title on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Texas St. Bobcats, 12-0, in the finals of 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, pitched a combined no-hitter, and hit three home runs, including a grand slam, to help them to the 12-run, 5-inning, mercy-rule victory over the third-seeded Bobcats.
The win marked the fifth-straight for the Cajuns over Texas St., after sweeping a three-game series from the Bobcats earlier this year at Lamson Park, before downing them, 9-7, on Friday, in the tournament.
More importantly, the triumph earned Louisiana their 13th Sun Belt Tournament softball title in the 17-year history of the event, as well as their first since 2014.
UL defeated Georgia St. on Thursday, and Texas St. twice, on Friday, and then again on Saturday, en route to capturing the crown.
The Cajuns, who are now 53-8, all-time, in the tournament, appeared in the finals for the 10th-consecutive year, and for the 15th time in the last 17 years.
The win gives UL an automatic bid into the NCAA Regionals, which begin next week.
Louisiana will be making their 18th-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, 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 two runs in the bottom half of the first inning, when sophomore outfielder Aleah Craighton delivered a clutch two-run, two-out triple, to grab a quick 2-0 lead.
The Cajuns widened their lead, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the third inning, after senior outfielder Shellie Landry drove home a run with a double, before senior first baseman Kelsey Vincent blasted a 2-run home run, her 13th of the season, to make it 5-0.
Louisiana put the game away in the bottom half of the fourth inning, scoring 7 runs on 6 hits, courtesy of a grand slam homer by Craighton, and a solo shot by sophomore shortstop D.J. Sanders.
The Cajuns, who outhit the Bobcats, 10-0, were led at the plate by Craighton, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, who homered and drove in 6 runs, and Sanders, who also played long ball.
Macey Smith (3-0) recorded the win in the circle for Louisiana, not allowing a hits, while walking 2 and striking out 2.
Smith faced all but one batter in relief of the starter, Alex Stewart, who was taken out of the game after being called for two illegal pitches.
Randi Rupp (29-12) suffered the loss for Texas St., allowing 6 runs on 7 hits, in 3.1 innings of work.
With the victory, Louisiana improved to 43-7 on the season, while Texas St. dropped to 39-20.
The NCAA Regional pairings will be announced on Sunday evening at 9 pm.