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Softball: Cajuns clinch 11th Sun Belt title

The Advertiser, April 28, 2014

Corin Voinché went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, and Christina Hamilton threw six shutout innings, as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns defeated the UT Arlington Mavericks, 8-0, and clinched their 11th Sun Belt Conference Regular Season Championship on Sunday at Allan Saxe Field.

The Cajuns improved to 38-7-1 overall and 16-1 in Sun Belt play, and have clinched the top seed for the conference tournament, and an automatic bye to the third round of play on Thursday, May 8.

"With this group, every year we talk about playing every game, and we have three more games to play," head coach Michael Lotief said. "After that is when you look up at the standings. This team is deserving of a conference championship, they have worked hard, played hard, and overcome adversity. They fight for each other and they deserve this, but we have to finish."

Lexie Elkins got the game started early for the Cajuns, hitting her 16th home run of the season and third this week, driving in Haley Hayden to make it 2-0 in the top of the first inning.

That gave Christina Hamilton a big enough lead to win her 21st game of the season, holding the Mavericks to three hits over six innings and no walks, while striking out four batters. Victoria Brown tossed the final inning, walking a batter but got a double play to finish the game and preserve the shutout.

The Cajuns went scoreless in the second inning before the long ball came into effect again in the top of the third, this time off the bat of Shellie Landry, a solo home run, to extend the Cajuns’ lead to 3-0 after three innings. For Landry it was her third home run of the season and RBI number 30, becoming the fourth Cajun this season with 30-or-more RBI.

Gabby Felps continued her solid weekend at the plate in the fourth inning, lacing a lead

off triple, the first triple of her career, down the right field line. Two batters later, Voinché made it 4-0 with an RBI double to deep center field, scoring Felps easily.

Hayden added to the Cajuns lead with two outs in the inning, singling down the right field line and driving in Voinché to make it 5-0.

Samantha Walsh picked up an RBI in the sixth inning to make it 6-0 with a bases-loaded walk, before Voinché went back to work in the seventh inning.

The redshirt freshman picked up her second RBI of the day, driving in Kendall Smith, and would later come around to score her second run of the game on an error off the bat of Natalie Fernandez, to give the Cajuns their ultimate lead, 8-0.

Elkins also had a two-hit and two-RBI game, hitting her homer in the first and added a single in the fifth.

Over the weekend, the Cajuns pitching staff held the Mavericks to just seven hits over 19 shutout innings.

"It’s a team effort," Lotief said. "I thought we played good defense, pitched the ball to locations, and in moments we played good team offense. To me there was no area of any aspect that stood out over any other area. They did there work and played blue collar softball."

The Ragin’ Cajuns will now return to Lamson Park for the foreseen future to take on the ULM Warhawks for Senior Weekend on May 3-4. They will remain at home for the next week, as they host the 2014 Sun Belt Softball Championships, and await their fate for the NCAA Tournament Regional placements.