Softball: Cajuns Over Baylor 3-1, Advances to Lafayette Regional Championship Game
LAFAYETTE – With three runs in their final two at bats the 11th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team topped 18th-ranked Baylor 3-1 in Saturday’s NCAA Lafayette Regional winner’s bracket final at Lamson Park.
Louisiana (41-9) advanced to the regional’s 6 p.m., championship game on Sunday. The Ragin’ Cajuns move to championship Sunday undefeated for the fourth straight year and seek to advance to the Super Regional round for the fourth straight year.
The NCAA Lafayette Regional championship game is scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast in the Lafayette area on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM. Louisiana needs only one win to advance to the Super Regional round against the winner of the NCAA Auburn Regional, while the opposition in the game would need two wins.
Trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, DJ Sanders‘ second of three hits in the game started the inning and led to the tying run. She scored on a grounder to second base by Haley Hayden to draw the Cajuns even with the Bears (39-16) at 1-1.
Aleah Craighton, who moved to third base on Hayden’s grounder, gave Louisiana a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Lexie Elkins.
Jordan Wallace (17-5) kept the momentum on the Cajuns’ side by posting a scoreless frame in the sixth inning. She retired three straight batters after pinch hitter Linsey Hays opened with a double.
A two-out single into shallow right field in the bottom of the sixth by Craighton scored Leandra Maly with an insurance run. Maly started the rally with a two-out walk, then advanced to second on Sanders’ third hit of the game.
Wallace struck out pinch hitter Christy Lisenby and Ari Hawkins for the first two outs of the seventh inning. Shelby Friudenberg grounded out to Sanders on the first pitch for the final out.
Sanders went 3-for-3 at the plate, tying her season-high for hits reaching the total for the third time. Wallace scattered four hits over seven innings and struck out seven Baylor batters.
Wallace earned her 90th career win becoming only the fourth pitcher in program history to reach 90 career wins joining Brooke Mitchell (119), Kyla Hall (104) and Ashley Brignac (94). Her career record stands at 90-19 over 137 career appearances (113 starts).
Wallace, the winning pitcher in the Cajuns 3-1 win over the Bears in game one of a doubleheader at Lamson Park back on April 11, outdueled Heather Stearns (20-12) again. Stearns had limited Louisiana to two hits and three baserunners over the first four innings before the Cajuns rallied for three runs in their final two at bats.
After a scoreless first inning, the Bears took a 1-0 lead after back-to-back infield singles with two outs in the top of the second inning. Caitlin Charlton, who walked to keep the at bat live, advanced to third after a throwing error by Sanders on a single from Jessica Scroggins and scored a slow roller to third base by Robin Landrith.
DIAMOND NOTES: Louisiana and Baylor met in the NCAA Tournament for the third time and first time since the 2009 NCAA Waco Regional…The Cajuns, who picked up their first postseason win over the Bears, extended their win streak in the all-time series to six games…Louisiana improved to 13-6 all-time vs. Baylor…Jordan Wallace‘s first strikeout of the game was her 200th of the season marking the second time in her career she’s reached the mark (struck out 382 as a sophomore in 2013)…Lexie Elkins‘ sacrifice fly in the fifth inning was her sixth of the season moving her within two of the school record eight hit by Vanessa Soto in 2008…The Cajuns extended their NCAA Regionals win streak at Lamson Park to eight games…The win increased the program’s all-time win total to 1,496, leaving the storied program four wins shy of 1,500 (current record is 1,496-440-1).