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Softball: Cajuns ready to host Super Regional round – tickets for Friday game on sale Thursday

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, May 20, 2012

UL coach Michael Lotief wasn’t in the mood to be comparing this year’s Ragin’ Cajun softball team to other elite teams in the program’s glorious past at his weekly press luncheon Monday.

For one, he was quick to point out that the new RPI system, that favors mid-major powerhouses like UL, wasn’t available to elite Cajun teams from yesteryear, making truly comparing teams a difficult proposition.

Lotief, however, has no problem appreciating the historic significance of UL hosting the Super Regional series for the first time when none other than Arizona comes to town Friday and Saturday with a College World Series spot on the line.

The best-of-three series begins at 8 p.m. Friday at Lamson Park on ESPNU, followed by a 2 p.m. game two on Saturday. An if-necessary game would follow shortly after game two ended.

"It’s great for the community," Lotief said. "It’s great for the university. This community and this university deserves this."

Lotief stopped just short of basically saying, like the old country song goes, that UL was softball when softball wasn’t cool. Now that it’s on national TV and garnering more fan attention, the local support for the program is turning heads.

"I just love our fan base," Lotief said. "This fan base didn’t just jump on the bandwagon. Season tickets went up before the season when we knew it was going to be a rebuilding year. That’s pretty strong.

"The roar that comes from the crowd when something good happens just gives you goosebumps."

The NCAA Regional attendance of 10,.050 at Lamson Park this past weekend ranked third out of the 16 regionals nationally, trailing only 12,430 at Alabama and Kentucky’s 10,622 (although Kentucky played one more game).

UL softball thanks fans after winning NCAA regional

The 2,138 crowd Sunday was the second largest single crowd, trailing only Alabama’s 2,198. Of course, Alabama is coached by former UL assistant Patrick Murphy and assisted by former UL player and coach Alyson Habetz.

All those fans at Lamson Park saw a Cajun batting lineup that seems to be coming together at the right time. The big weekend got Shellie Landry over .300 for the first time this season at .305, as is Shelbi Redfearn now at .304.

At the bottom of the lineup, a big weekend from Corin Voinche’ elevated her to .281 and Kelsey Vincent breaking out of her slump with a single and a three-run home run Sunday may have produced the biggest reaction of all from Lotief this past weekend.

And while Sara Corbello wasn’t able to end her long hit drought, the sophomore designated player did produce the game-winning RBI with a walk in Saturday’s 3-2 comeback win over Texas.

"That kid (Corbello) was locked into that at-bat," Lotief said. "She understood exactly what was going on."

The Cajuns now await an Arizona program with eight national championships in a series that figures to be loaded with fireworks. Arizona leads the nation with 106 home runs, with UL second at 85.

The final scores in the Wildcats’ Regional wins were 9-6, 9-8 and 13-5 and the loss was 6-3.

"You look at a lot of their losses and it’s 9-7, 12-10," Lotief said.

While the sport continues to make progress, however, Lotief laments the fact that the second and third games are played on the same day with the College World Series spots on the line.

"I think we’re closer (to changing it to three days)," he said. "It’s the right thing to do. There’s no justification for doing it."

Super Regionals(Best-of-3 on ESPNU at Lamson Park)

Game 1: Arizona (44-14) at UL (47-8-1), 8 p.m., Friday

Game 2: Arizona at UL, 2 p.m., Saturday

Game3: Arizona at UL (if necessary), Saturday

(Tickets: Go on sale to general public Thursday.)

Athletic Network Footnote:
Click on www.ragincajuns.com for Super Regional ticket information.