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Softball: Another day, another split – Cajuns down UNC in 10, fall to Texas again – photo gallery

Kevin Foote, Daily Advertiser, Feb. 9, 2014

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She’s only been an everyday starter for two days now for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns softball team.

But she is one of only two seniors on the squad.

So when first baseman Shelbi Redfearn saw the way her team fought back for the second straight game and saw the way junior pitcher Christina Hamilton came off the bench to keep the Cajuns alive, she figured it was time to join in.

Redfearn did so in a big way, hitting a towering home run that fell just on the other side of the fence in leftfield to lift the Cajuns to a dramatic 6-5 win over North Carolina in 10 innings.

Then for the second straight night, the excitement level from a comeback win was dampened some by a loss to No. 10-ranked Texas, which scored five runs in the second inning and then held on for a 7-3 victory over UL at the Louisiana Classics Tournament Saturday at Lamson Park.

“We just kept fighting,” Redfearn said. “This team isn’t going to stop fighting. It was fun (hitting game-winner). When I got up, I could feel the entire team behind me.

“We’re just going to continue to grown. We’ve still got to do some things better to get even better. As a team, though, we’re going to work hard to do it together.”

The Cajuns (2-2) will now meet Northern Iowa at 11:30 a.m. today to finalize the Louisiana Classics weekend play.

“Really, I didn’t know how I would like this (young team), but I’ve really enjoyed them,” UL coach Michael Lotief said. “There’s a lot of fight in these young girls. They’re definitely doing some exciting things.”

For the second straight day, new catcher Lexie Elkins stepped forward as the lineup’s new bell cow by smashing a three-run home run to give UL a 3-1 lead over North Carolina at the time. She would finish the game 2-for-4 with a double, a homer and four RBIs.

“She’s red hot right now,” Lotief said. “We’ve got a couple of hot hitters right now. We just need to some other things better to be a complete offense.”

But the Tar Heels would get to UL freshman starter Macey Smith, who gave way to Hamilton. Hamilton did her part and more by throwing six no-hit innings to finish off the game.

In order for Hamilton’s performance to earn a victory, though, the offense would have to launch another comeback. Down 5-3, Sarah Arceneaux delivered a pinch-hit RBI double to score Kelsey Vincent, who had singled, to narrow the gap to 5-4.

Then Elkins delivered again. Freshman Haley Hayden singled to left to get the game-tying rally going and Elkins doubled her home to tie it at 5-5.

“She’s (Hayden) got it,” Lotief said. “She’s very athletic, she’s competitive and she’s got the bat speed. She’s a good young freshman.”

The final five innings or so of game one were dominated by Hamilton and UNC reliever Lori Spingola.

That was until Redfearn led off the 10th with her game-winning to make Hamilton the winner.

If not for Hamilton having to go six innings in game one, she might have started game two against Texas.

Instead, freshman right-hander Alex Stewart did after not getting out of the first against Northern Iowa on Friday.

Stewart used change-up after change-up after change-up to certainly improve upon her performance by going all six innings, giving up 11 hits and six earned runs on seven walks and nine strikeouts.

“For her to strike out nine hitters against a top 10 team like Texas shows that she’s got something,” Lotief said. “She definitely needs to develop a little more, but that’s a good sign. To me, that’s somethign to build on, especially after she didn’t get out of the first the day before.”

Hayden smashed a line-drive, two-run homer to give UL a quick 2-0 lead over Texas, but the Longhorns responded in the second with a five-run frame. Lindsey Stephens hit a three-run homer to left for the big hit in that decisive frame.

It was a turnaround after UL had scored five against Texas in the first the night before.

UL threatened to get back into the game several times. Sara Corbello delivered an RBI single in the third to make it 5-3, but the Cajuns would strand two in the fifth and three more in the sixth to prevent a third comeback of the weekend.