UL/South Alabama Softball Flashback: What Changed It All In 2013
Seldom does one game change the complexion of an entire season, but the 2-1 victory by the Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team over the South Alabama Jaguars back in 2013 may have done just that.
20th-ranked Louisiana returns to the diamond this weekend, traveling to Mobile, Alabama to take on the South Alabama Jaguars in a three-game Sun Belt Conference series.
Louisiana has been, without question, the top program in the league, winning 24 of the 33 match-ups since 2007 against South Alabama. But if there is any program that the Cajuns can call a rival, it is the Jaguars, who have been no stranger to the top 25, or to postseason play over the years.
It's a series that is good for the Sun Belt Conference, and all of college softball.
There have been a number of good games in the series between the two, but one really stands in my mind.
The game I'm referring to was played back on St. Patrick's Day, Sunday, March 17, 2013, in Mobile.
The Cajuns were facing some adversity going into that series. They were still playing without the services of All-American shortstop Nerissa Myers, who was recovering from a broken ankle, and had dropped 2-of-3 games to WKU the previous weekend at Lamson Park.
To makes matters even worse, South Alabama swept a doubleheader from Louisiana in the first two games of the series, giving them 9 losses in 13 games, and a 1-4 conference mark.
Something happened in the second game of that doubleheader, however, that may have helped jump-start the Cajuns, and help them turn their good season into a great one.
Four UL hitters, Brianna Cherry (twice), Sarah Draheim, and Matte Haack were all hit by pitcher, and tempers flared, to the point where there was some concern on my part that things might get physical, which they didn't.
I don't think anybody did anything wrong, on either team, and I don't think anybody was trying to hurt the other. It was just elite athletes, on two outstanding teams, just being competitive.
That being said, I think that altercation, if you want to call it that, may have woken up the sleeping giant.
I think that day may have brought Louisiana even closer together as a group, showing that they had each other's backs.
The next day, on that Sunday, the Cajuns facing a possible sweep at the hands of South Alabama, and a possible 1-5 league mark, pushed back.
Would you expect anything less from a Michael Lotief coached team though?
Jordan Wallace was magnificent, striking out 15 batters, without allowing a walk, while limiting South Alabama to one run, as Louisiana went on to win, 2-1,
I said at the time, and I'm even more convinced now; that wasn't just a win, it was a statement.
How big of a statement?
Well, guess how many regular season games Louisiana lost the rest of the way?
That's right, they won 22-consecutive games to end the regular season, and I've always believed that the win over South Alabama in the final game of that series, and the manor in which they did it with, with a little attitude, turned that season completely around.
That season, Louisiana won the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Regional, advanced to their second of what is now five-straight NCAA Super Regionals, and finished at 47-15.
That's quite a record for a team that went into that game on Sunday, March 17, 2013 with a 4-9 record over their last 13 games.
Say what you want as to what Louisiana did that day; responded...got off the matt...showed what they were made of...they all apply.
Simply put, they came together and put together one special run, and one special year.
That game, unquestionably, had a big impact on the Cajuns that year, and you just never know what impact the games this weekend will have on either team the remainder of this season.