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Softball: Cajuns claim dramatic sweep

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, March 13, 2016



Lexie Elkins greeted by teamates after hitting a homer as Cajuns Softball takes on South Alabama at Lamson Field. March 13, 2016.(Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)


Landry, Craighton play key roles in comeback sweep of USA


 PHOTO GALLERY: Softball take on South Alabama


Much like baseball, softball is a game of failure.

UL coach Michael Lotief reminds anyone who’ll listen of that fact over and over again.

After four years of learning hitting under Lotief, senior outfielder Shellie Landry’s certainly heard it hundreds of times.

On Sunday, Landry learned that lesson one more time.

She fought through the trials of failure and reaped the benefits of success in UL’s dramatic 3-2, 10-6 Sun Belt sweep of South Alabama at Lamson Park.

“That (Landry) is a kid who is a perfectionist in a game that doesn’t allow you to be perfect,” Lotief said after the sweep that left his No. 5-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns 19-1 overall and 2-0 in league play.

“She puts too much pressure on herself.”

That could be sensed in both games Sunday. In the first game, South Alabama jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

UL’s power game got the Cajuns back in it with solo homers from Lexie Elkins and Aleah Craighton in the fourth. Elkins’ homer was her 71st to move into No. 2 in school history.

Then with two outs and a runner on second in the fifth, Landry delivers a clutch RBI single for the game-winning hit.

“He (Lotief) always tells me to keep doing the little things and eventually it’ll fall for you,” Landry said.

That was extra special for Landry, who had lined out hard to the shortstop with runners on base in the third inning.

“I’ve been working on it (out on front foot) to help the team,” Landry said. “I was looking for a pitch. She gave it to me, and I wasn’t going to miss it.”

That patient, yet aggressive approach, was illustrated again in the second game.

Again, the visiting Jaguars put pressure in the Cajuns early on. An error and two walks were credited to game two start Kylee Jo Trahan to bring game one winner Alex Stewart back to the circle in the first inning.

Lotief said Trahan’s mindset during his visit to the circle told him he needed to make a quick change.

Still, South Alabama got a two-run single from Haleigh Lowe and an RBI ground out from Haleigh Lane for a quick 3-0 lead that grew to 4-0 in the second and then 6-2 in the fifth on Amanda Minahan’s two-run homer.

Somehow, though, the Cajuns didn’t wilt. Neither did Landry.

Not only did UL rally in the bottom of the seventh, but somehow put together an eight-run frame to take total control of the game at 10-6.

“He (Lotief) just told us before the (eight-run sixth) that it was pitch-by-pitch for everybody,” Landry said. “Not just the hitter, but everybody.

“We weren’t going to win it with a bunch of home runs. We trusted that. It came natural to us, because that’s what we do every day in practice.”

The giant rally began with a DJ Sanders single to right. Pinch-hitter Taylor Terrio and Kara Gremillion both walked to load the bases.

Haley Hayden singled home a run to really make things interesting.

Landry then singled home two with a shot up the middle and then got all the way to third on a throwing error. Suddenly, the game was tied.

Craighton later said that UL just utilized the “pass the bat” mentality in that eight-run frame. Kelsey Vincent took her turn with an RBI single to left for the game-winner, before Craighton really hammered home the point with a three-run homer to right.

“We just all trusted each other and trusted the process,” Craighton said. “We just passed the bat until we got all the runs we needed. That’s our strategy every day.”

Craighton finished the game 2-for-3 with the homer and three RBIs after going 1-for-3 with a homer in game one.

“This (sweeping USA) was very important,” Craighton said. “It’ll set the tone for the rest of the (Sun Belt) season.”

And then in another case of effectively dealing with failure, Trahan re-entered the game to pitch the final two innings and get the win.

“She regrouped, came back in and mowed them down,” Lotief said.

Lotief said Stewart was tired after five innings of relief in the nightcap after throwing 100 pitches in a complete-game win in the opener.

“It wasn’t so much the outcome, I just loved the fact that we didn’t play well, but our girls kept battling,” Lotief said. “That shows what they’re made of.”