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Softball: Blowout day at Lamson – After loss to Michigan, UL crushes Memphis – photo gallery

Daily Advertiser, Feb. 16, 2014

Click here for digital photo gallery of UL vs. Michigan Saturday.

It wasn’t the prettiest day so far this season for the No. 20-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns softball team.

But when you’re as young as coach Michael Lotief’s team happens to be this season, it’s easy to chalk up any day at the office as a learning experience.

The Cajuns certainly experienced the good and the bad in a big way on Saturday, first getting smashed 15-1 by No. 4 Michigan and then getting a little frustration out themselves with a 13-2 demolition of Memphis on day two of the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational at Lamson Park.

The Cajuns will return to the diamond at 2 p.m. today against Central Arkansas, before heading to Clearwater, Fla., next weekend to take part in the NFCA Leadoff Classic against the likes of Illinois State, James Madison, Hofstra, South Florida and Rutgers.

“It was just another day for us to come out and learn,” head coach Michael Lotief said. “A lot of stuff happened today on the field and we continued to get better and figure out the adjustments we need to make to become a better softball team.”

Not that anyone who has seen the Cajuns (5-3-1) play so far this season, but yet another newcomer made a big impact with freshman Haley Hayden hitting two more homers and driving in six more run to ignite UL’s offense on the day.

Hayden now leads the team with five homers and 11 RBIs on the season.

Hayden ignited a UL offensive explosion that allowed Cajun fans to breathe easier. After watching Michigan unload on the Cajuns’ younger pitchers to avenge Friday’s 8-6 loss, Memphis jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings to frighten a few faithful.

Then came the fourth inning when UL broke loose for five runs, followed by two in the fifth and six more in the sixth to lead to the mercy-rule victory.

The Cajuns’ 13 runs came off of five home runs, including four in the sixth inning and two from Hayden.

Hayden went 2-for-4 with five RBIs in the game, hitting her first home run in the fourth inning, a three-run shot, and hitting her second in the sixth, a two-run shot.

She finished the day with six RBIs off of two homers and a double.

“She is a kid who has an opportunity to be special.” Lotief said of Hayden. “Every game she is learning and getting better by growing and developing. That kid is continuing to get better and grow into a very special player.”

The Cajuns also got home runs from Lexie Elkins, Shelbi Redfearn, Sara Corbello and Linzey Cifreo.

Natalie Fernandez was the only other Cajun besides Hayden to get multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

The other encouraging sign of the win was the pitcher of Christina Hamilton.

After scuffling a little bit early on, Hamilton made the right pitches when she had to, clutch strikeouts with runners in scoring position, including the final out of the game. She fanned a pinch hitter to end the second inning with the bases loaded, and struck out another batter with runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth to end the inning.

She pitched a complete game, tossing 6.0 innings, allowing two unearned runs on three hits and two walks, while fanning seven batters.

The offensive story was a lot different in the first game.

Michigan got on top early, scoring two unearned runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.

They added to that lead in the second, scoring one run on an RBI single, and then grabbing four runs off of a Sierra Romero grand slam, the teams third grand slam of the tournament.

After Michigan added seven more runs in the third inning, and a single run in the fifth, the Cajuns found the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, but a comeback rally was not to be found.

Hayden gave the Cajuns what would be a precursor to the nightcap, doubling to deep center field and scoring pinch runner, Meagan Thomas.

“This team (UL) is a very competitive team,” Lotief said. “They understand what they can happen and can put it into perspective. Michigan is a good team and is a team that was in the World Series last year.

“We went at them with true freshmen,” Lotief added. “Jordan (Wallace) was telling (Macey Smith) and (Alex Stewart) the same thing, that when you go at a team like this as true freshmen, it’s not about the ability and outcome but the learning experience. It is going to treat these kids well down the road.”