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Softball: Cajuns’ postseason run ends at Auburn

Steve Peloquin, Special to the Advertiser, May 23, 2015



UL pitcher Alex Stewart and second baseman Haley Hayden both kept the Ragin’ Cajuns competitive during Saturday’s game two after Friday’s heartbreaking 12-11 loss in the opener.(Photo: Courtesy UL sports information)


One day after suffering one of the most unlikely postseason losses in the program’s history, the UL Ragin’ Cajun softball team was eliminated from NCAA Super Regional play with a 6-3 loss to Auburn on Saturday at Jane B. Moore Field.

Auburn, the No. 4 overall national seed, won the best-of-three game series, 2-0, and advances to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in program history. No. 13-seeded UL, meanwhile, has its season end at 42-12.

“When we started this thing two years ago, we said we’re going to the College World Series and at that time there was just a fat, old gray-haired guy standing around saying we’re going to the College World Series,” said Auburn coach Clint Myers a two-time National Champion at Arizona State who will make his eighth trip to the WCWS in 10 years. “What we’ve tried to get to them is it’s not a goal to get to the College World Series, it’s an expectation.

“I think that these young ladies, they’re the very first ones to do it, are going to be the starting point for something very good here at Auburn.”

Despite the frustrating two-game series, UL coach Michael Lotief was gracious in defeat.

“Congratulations to Auburn and Coach Myers, and good luck to them in the World Series,” he said . “I am proud of my kids and the way they played. I am proud of the way they represented me and the university. I am proud of the way they represented the community. We had a great year. They will forever be winners.”

Auburn got on the scoreboard first, plating a run in the top half of the first inning, when Kasey Cooper doubled with two out, moved to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on an infield single off the bat of Branndi Melero, giving them a quick 1-0 lead.

UL answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the first when Hayley Hayden led off the frame with a single, and later scored on an infield single off the bat of Samantha Walsh, to even the game, 1-1.

The Cajuns grabbed the lead in the bottom half of the second inning, when they loaded they the bases with one out, before Lexie Elkins singled off of the centerfield fence, scoring Kelli Martinez, giving them a 2-1 advantage.

The Tigers evened the score in the top of the fourth inning, loading the bases, and scoring a run on a fielders choice ground ball off the bat of Jenna Abbott, scoring Haley Fagan, to make the score 2-2.

UL had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the fourth inning, loading the bases with one out, but failed to score, leaving two on base, the sixth and seventh runners they left on base through the first four innings.

Auburn took the lead for good in the top half of the sixth inning, plating three runs, the first coming on a wild pitch, scoring Morgan Estell, with the final three coming courtesy of a two-out, three-run home run off the bat of Kasey Cooper, giving them a 6-2 edge.

The Cajuns pushed across a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, to trim the deficit to three runs, when Samantha Walsh drew a bases loaded walk, scoring Martinez, to make the score 6-3.

UL left the bases loaded in the inning however, pushing the number of runners they left in the game to ten.

UL, who outhit Auburn, 9-8, was led at the plate by Hayden, who went 4-for-4 with a run scored, while Martinez went 2-for-3 with a run scored.

UL grabbed the lead early, showing some character after Saturday’s gut-wrenching 12-11 loss in 8 innings.

“I think we did,” UL catcher Lexie Elkins said. “Our plan today was to play pitch-by-pitch all game.

“We went up there with a plan but I think we got caught up trying to hit too many home runs. This game we were just trying to go for line drives. I don’t think she (Auburn pitcher Lexi Davis) did anything special. Even when we had the bases loaded, we popped it up, but it was right at someone.”

Auburn was paced by Estel at 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Cooper, went 2-for-3, including a homer, a double, a run scored, and two runs batted in.

Lexi Davis (24-2) recorded the win in the circle for the Tigers, allowing 9 hits and 8 walks over seven innings, while Alex Stewart (10-2) suffered the loss in the Cajuns, surrendering 8 hits and 5 walks.

“I know that we pitch to contact, it’s no secret, so the hitters are going to put balls in play,” said Davis, who allowed three runs, two earned, in a complete game win. “I feel if I don’t have strong defense then it’s not going to work; but we have the best defense in the country and I think that they allowed me to throw where I want to throw because I know that they’re going to have my back.”