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Softball: Cajuns advance to final day of tourney

Daily Advertiser, May 11, 2013 
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Athletic Network Footnote:

South Alabama defeated North Texas (5-0) meaning the Cajuns and Lady Toppers will play tomorrow with the winner meeting South Alabama for the Sun Belt Conference Championship. 

The first game is scheduled for 9:00 A.M. and the Championship game is tentatively scheduled for 3:00 P.M. but may be moved to Sunday. The Sun Belt is hosting a free webcast for the morning game, and the second game will be televised by CSS and ESPN-3.

Nick Ross,Sports Information Assistant,University of Louisiana-Lafayette,(C)- 651-808-2743,(O)- 337-482-6332

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TROY, ALA. — Jordan Wallace allowed just two hits and Sarah Draheim drove in two runs as the UL Ragin’ Cajuns softball team defeated top-seeded Western Kentucky 3-2 Friday in the Sun Belt Conference Championships in Troy, Ala.

Earlier on Friday, UL demolished Florida Atlantic 15-0 in five innings in an elimination game.

The Cajuns became just the second lower-seeded team to win in the tournament; Troy defeating FIU was the other.

“This is what we’ve been doing all year,” UL coach Michael Lotief said after the game. “Play one game and then play the next day. It’s no different. If you are planning on playing in the postseason you need to play from Thursday to Sunday.”

The Cajuns (43-12) and Lady Toppers will return to the Troy Softball Complex for a 9 a.m. elimination game today with the winner to meet No. 2 seeded South Alabama at 3 p.m. in the tournament’s championship game.

The finals will be televised on Cox Sports and on ESPN3.com.

After allowing just one run on one hit in an eight-inning outing last night, Wallace came back to allow two runs on two hits in a complete game effort. She allowed a run in the first and the fourth innings before retiring the final 10 batters she faced, including four by a strikeout. In the game she tossed 7.0 innings allowing two runs on two hits and two walks, while fanning 10.

“The pitchers are showing guts. A lot of the kids are showing guts and fighting,” Lotief continued. “This team is here to fight, we can’t control the result and the outcome, but we can control our effort, our attitude and our fight.”

The Lady Toppers were the first to strike in the game with a lead-off home run by second-team All-Sun Belt infielder Preslie Cruce.

The Cajuns responded two innings later with a three-run inning. Samantha Walsh kicked the inning off with a single to center and stole second before Leandra Maly was walked.

Nerissa Myers was two batters later and loaded the bases with a single to center. Brianna Cherry came up with the bases loaded and drove in Walsh with a ground out to second base.

Draheim followed that up with a two-RBI single, driving in Maly and Myers, giving the Cajuns a 3-1 lead.

She finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBIs, and has nine RBIs in the Tournament.

“She’s getting hot at the right time of the year,” Lotief said of Draheim. “In this time of the year that’s what it’s about, feeling the moment and being hot this time of the year.”

In the first game of the day, the Cajuns’ bat exploded, one day after getting no-hit in a 1-0 eight-inning loss to South Alabama.

UL took no time getting on base to start the game. Myers walked and Brianna Cherry was hit by a pitch, leading to an RBI double by Draheim.

The Cajuns went on to score three more runs in the first with a two-run double by Haack and an RBI single by Shellie Landry to open the game with a 4-0 lead.

The Cajuns added 11 more runs in the game, scoring three in the second and third innings and five in the fourth inning.

Both Haack and Draheim both had their third four-RBI games of the season, combining for over half the teams run production. Draheim finished the game 3-for-3 with a home run and a career-high four runs. Haack finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored.

The Cajun saw many other individual season and career-highs tied and topped in the game. Brianna Cherry finished the day 2-for-2 with an RBI and a career-high four runs. Natalie Fernandez went 3-for-3 on the day scoring three runs, tying her season-highs in both of those categories as well.

Landry continued the season-high trend, going 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs. Four hits tied her season-high.

As a team, the Cajuns hit a season-high five doubles.

Victoria Brown got the start in the circle for the Cajuns and improved to 9-1 on the season, lowering her ERA to 3.68. She tossed 4.0 innings, allowing just two hits and tying her season-high with four strikeouts.

Kristin Martinez finished the game, tossing the final inning and allowing two hits and a walk, while fanning one batter.