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Softball: Cajuns down South Alabama ace pitcher to gain three-game lead in Sun Belt race

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, April 14, 2014

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UL sophomore catcher Lexie Elkins said the mentality of the No. 18-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns is "the bigger the game, the looser they are."

Combine that with a little more specific goal of wanting to attack South Alabama ace left-hander Hannah Campbell and it all set up the most dramatic confrontation in Sunday’s crucial Sun Belt rubber game at Lamson Park.

The Cajuns had just scored their first run off Campbell to tie it at 1-1 on a Haley Hayden triple to center.

Only Elkins knows how loose she really was as she approached the plate for that critical at-bat, but she certainly did attack, lining Campbell’s first pitch over the wall in left for a two-run bomb to give the Cajuns the lead for good in a 5-1 victory over South Alabama.

"She was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes, so the first one I saw, I was going to attack," Elkins said.

With the win, the Cajuns improved to 30-7-1 overall and 11-1 in Sun Belt play, good enough for a three-game lead on the field with nine games to go against the bottom three teams in the league.

"That was big-time at that point (in the game)," UL coach Michael Lotief said. "She (Campbell) just decided to come right after her and Lexie responded. That was huge."

Elkins’ momentum-swinging homer put Campbell, who allowed just four hits in beating UL 8-4 Saturday not to mention 1-0 in eight innings in the Sun Belt Tournament last year, on the ropes.

The knockout punch came in the next inning when Shelbi Redfearn singled and scored when Kelsey Vincent smashed a single to right that was mishandled. Sara Corbello followed with an RBI single to right for a commanding 5-1 lead.

"It wasn’t just that she’s left-handed, but that she’s one of the best pitchers in our game," Lotief said. "We had good at-bats and good approaches.

"(Saturday) She was taking the zone that was given her (by umpire). Today, she wasn’t getting that call off the zone and our hitters made the adjustment."

Elkins was the only Cajun hitter with more than one hit, but the hits were spread out throughout the lineup.

"He (Lotief) talked to us last night how it can’t just be a couple girls," Elkins said. "It was going to take a collective effort and we did that today."

Playing a huge role was pitcher Christina Hamilton, who scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out two. The only run she allowed was a solo homer to Alex Breeden in the second inning.

"I think Christina threw very well," Lotief said. "Her stuff was good. She had her command again. She was in control."