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Softball: Another record crowd for UL softball

SULPHUR – Seven years ago, UL played host to LSU in a doubleheader at Lamson Park before 1,729 fans – which still stands as the state’s intercollegiate softball attendance record.

The Ragin’ Cajuns helped make history again on Sunday against the U.S. Olympic Team.

Team USA’s first stop in Louisiana was historic as an announced crowd of 4,162 watched a 2-0 win over the Cajuns at McMurry Park. It was the largest-attended softball game in state history and set the attendance record for Team USA’s "Bound-4-Beijing" Tour.

"It was so special to be able to play this game in our home state," UL’s Ashley Brignac said. "It felt great to have so many of our own fans cheering us on."

Big-time ties

The Cajuns have plenty of connections to Team USA. Former Cajun standouts Alana Addison and Brooke Mitchell were members of Team USA.

Two other former Cajuns, Danyele Gomez and Becky McMurty, were invited to the US National Camp tryouts.

Current Cajun pitcher Ashley Brignac played last summer for the Junior National Team. The freshman started all four medal-round games, going 3-0 as Team USA won its first gold medal since 1995.

Dig even deeper and you’ll find even more Cajun ties to Team USA.

In a 5-0 win over Arizona in a 2004 NCAA Regional game, current Cajun Holly Tankersley smashed a two-run home run off Alicia Hollowell, who now pitches for Team USA.

Family matters

Regarded as the face of Team USA softball, Jennie Finch played in front of family and friends on Saturday. Finch is married to major-league pitcher Casey Daigle, who graduated from Sulphur High. They make their winter home just outside Sulphur in Vinton.

"The support they’ve shown me, my husband and his family has been great," said Finch, a native of California. "I’ve adopted the South because of the great people and great support.

"I’m truly blessed to be able to experience it."

Finch played for the NPF Chicago Bandits from 2005-07. She gave birth to son, Ace Shane Daigle, on May 4, 2006.

Odds and Ends

Two of softball’s top coaches faced off on Saturday. Team USA’s Mike Candrea, who also coaches the University of Arizona, entered this season as the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I softball with a .832 winning percentage (1,131-228-2 record) in 21 years. UL co-coach Stefni Lotief is second on the list with a .812 winning percentage (355-82) in seven years. Candrea entered the season having won 13 of 15 head-to-head matchups against Lotief … Team USA pitcher Cat Osterman celebrated her 25th birthday on Wednesday. The former Texas standout was born in Houston, which is located about 135 miles from Sulphur.