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|Cajuns Topple ASU, 6-0, In Super- Regional Opener|
Freshman Jordan Wallace threw a complete-game two-hitter and UL pounded out a dozen hits, including home runs by Paige Cormier and Sarah Draheim, as the Ragin Cajuns' posted a 6-0 win over Arizona State in the first game of the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional at Farrington Stadium.
The 14th-seeded Cajuns (53-4) will face the third-seeded Sun Devils (49-9) again on Friday and will need to win one of the two possible games in order to advance to the Softball College World Series for the first time since 2008.
"I am happy for my team because of the way we played tonight, but we really haven't done anything yet," UL co-head coach Michael Lotief said. "It's a long way to Oklahoma City and we are a long way from getting there. I know that tomorrow is going to be another battle and that we are going to have to come out and fight for every pitch and for every out.
"We got one win and we need one more. I know that Arizona State is going to be ready tomorrow," Lotief added.
On a night in which the Cajun offense put runners on base in all but the sixth inning, it was Wallace who controlled the game. The freshman needed just 71 pitches and allowed just three base runners, including none past second base, to improve to 27-1. She struck out three and walked one.
After walking leadoff hitter Katelyn Boyd and going 3-0 to Alix Johnson to open the game, Wallace quickly found her groove. She came back to strike out Johnson, coerce Annie Lockwood to hit an innocent fly out to center and struck out Elizabeth Caporuscio to end the inning.
Wallace kept it going, retiring the side in both the second and the third, and needing a total of just 10 pitches to do so. After a Johnson bunt single to open the fourth, Wallace set down 12 of the next 13 batters to finish the game, including a routine one-two-three seventh inning.
"I was definitely having a little anxiety at the beginning, but you know you have to overcome those emotions and play your game," Wallace said. "I knew I was better than to let the moment get the best of me and I just battled through it."
After getting a pair of base runners in each of the first three innings, the Cajuns opened the scoring in the fourth when Paige Cormier and Sarah Draheim hit back-to-back homeruns off Sun Devil starter Dallas Escobedo to put UL ahead, 2-0.
The homeruns couldn't have been any different. Cormier crushed a 1-2 pitch from Escobedo over the old outfield wall in left center for her 12th long ball of the year. It conservatively traveled over 240 feet. Draheim's homer, her eighth of the season, came on a line drive that barely had enough elevation to clear the six-and-a-half foot wall. It appeared to be headed for the gap, but rode the jet stream winds that were gusting at up to 20 mph to right center.
"When you're facing an All-American like Dallas Escobedo and you get some traffic on the bases, you are just waiting for the timely hit," Michael Lotied said. "Our style is being aggressive and I want our hitters and base runners to stay aggressive. We just needed to keep attacking at the plate and I felt we would eventually get some timely hits."
UL made it 3-0 in the top of the fifth when Nerissa Myers used her speed to manufacture a run. The nation's leader in runs scored with 80 entering the game, Myers led off the inning with a line drive double down the left field line. She then went to third on a warning-track fly ball to right by Christi Orgeron and came into score on a sacrifice fly to right by Matte Haack.
The Cajuns opened the game up in the seventh, plating three more runs to chase Escobedo. Natalie Fernandez and Katie Smith led off with back-to-back bunt hits and with two outs, Haack lined a single up the middle that scored Fernandez and sent Smith to third. Haack stole second, one pitch before Brianna Cherry lined a single to the wall in right center to score both Smith and Haack.
That was all for Escobedo, who allowed six earned runs on 12 hits, striking out two without a walk in five and two-thirds innings. It was just the fifth time in 28 starts this year that she failed to record a complete game.
The same two teams will meet again on Friday at 6:00 p.m. in Tempe (8:00 p.m. in Lafayette) with the game being televised nationally on ESPNU. If the Cajuns win the contest, they will advance to the Softball World Series for the sixth time in program history. If ASU wins the game, the teams will meet again for the deciding game of the series with the winner advancing to Oklahoma City.
LAGNIAPPE: The crowd of 1, 663 for the game was almost 500 people more than the Sun Devils drew in the largest session of last weekend's regional. . . with the Cajuns seeing a temperature as high as 109 degrees this week during their trip to Tempe, the game time temp was just 93 degrees and by the third inning, it had dropped to 88. . . the loss was just the fourth of the year at home for the Sun Devils, who are now 40-4 at Farrington Stadium. . . the back-to-back homeruns in the fourth was the first time since Western Kentucky (May 11) in which UL had two long balls in the same inning. . . the win was the 500th victory in the head coaching career of Michael Lotief and the 601st for Stefni Lotief though Michael refused to acknowledge the milestone after the win. . . "I haven't won a game since I came to Lafayette. It has been these kids that have done it all and I am terribly proud of them," Michael Lotief said. . . eight of the nine Cajun batters had at least one hit with Fernandez, Haack and Cherry each having two hits.
Photo courtesy of University of Louisiana - Lafayette
Photo caption: UL-L Freshman Jordan Wallace threw a complete-game two-hitter in the Ragin Cajuns 6-0 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first game of their three game Super Regional Series. UL-L only needs one more victory to earn a spot in the College World Series in Oklahoma City next week.