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Softball: Cajuns sweep past Arizona for sixth WCWS trip

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, May 25, 2014
UL players are congratulated by fans in the outfield after their 7-1 victory over Arizona in an NCAA softball Super Regional game at Lamson Park on Saturday. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser )

When the 2014 UL Ragin’ Cajun softball season began, there seemed to be more questions than the coaching staff could possibly find answers for.

On Saturday afternoon at Lamson Park, there were no more questions.

The No. 6 overall seed Ragin’ Cajuns sliced and diced eight-time national champion Arizona seemingly with relative ease to grab a 7-1 victory over the Wildcats before a crowd of 2,193 fans and advance to the Women’s College World Series against the winner of the UCLA-Kentucky series.

The Cajuns (49-8-1) will be making the program’s sixth all-time WCWS trip and begin play on Thursday. Until they learn the opposition, however, they plan on celebrating their achievement.

Click here for post-game interviews.

The UL softball team talks to the media after beating Arizona to clinch a spot in the Women’s College World Series. Chad Washington, The Advertiser

"Only one team is going to leave the field for the last time without a loss this season," UL coach Michael Lotief said, "so you’d better savor this. What this team did this season is phenomenal. I’m going to celebrate.

"What these kids did is crazy. They did it because they love each other and they weren’t afraid to dream."

If there was any lingering doubt if the Cajuns would have the upper hand again on Saturday after Friday’s 5-3 win over Arizona, the first inning should have taken care of that.

As the visitors in game two, the Cajuns seemed to be headed for a slow start with two up and two down. Instead, Samantha Walsh doubled in between walks to Lexie Elkins and Shellie Landry to load the bases. Redfearn delivered a two-run single to right.

Kelsey Vincent then added an RBI single of her own for a quick 3-0 lead.

"That (rally) was huge," Redfearn said. "It was what we needed at that moment. Everybody did their jobs in front of me. It was my turn to trust in the process. I was able to get them in, but it was a team effort."

Junior pitcher Christina Hamilton made sure her offensive teammates wouldn’t have to do much else to push the Cajuns in the direction of Oklahoma City.

Click here for more post-game interviews.

After handling the Texas lineup twice in NCAA Regional play, Hamilton made it 2-for-2 against Arizona’s potent lineup, limiting the Wildcats to one run on a solo homer, five hits, no walks and two strikeouts.

"She doesn’t want to beat on her chest, but I saw a kid with grit, a kid with guts, a kid with confidence and a kid who believed in her teammates," Lotief said. "To do it on this stage was very impressive."

Lauren Young was the only Arizona hitter with more than one hit in Saturday’s game at 2-for-3.

"She kept hitting her spots," Young said. "She was getting us out on the rise ball."

Katiyana Mauga was responsible for Arizona’s lone run with a long solo blast in the second inning.

"It was more offspeed," Mauga said. "We weren’t hitting the top half of the ball."

In other words, after somewhat limiting Arizona to two earned runs and seven hits in Friday’s win, Hamilton altered her approach some to more rise balls and change-ups to be even more effective in game two.

"We just worked all week long on their weak spots," Hamilton said. "I just trusted the pitches that were called and trusted my defense behind me. That’s all you can really do.

"I didn’t feel like I did anything great. I just gave it to my defense. It was their great game."

Just in case Hamilton would need more support, however, the lineup gave it to her. Much of that involved the return of the Lexie Elkins Show. The sophomore catcher led off the third with a home run over the stands in leftcenter and then smashed a one-out home run in the sixth.

"I’ve been working really hard the last few weeks, but I just trusted in the process and in our prepration," Elkins said.

"I’m just so proud of this team. We always knew we had the potential to do this, even at the beginning of the season when we were struggling. I couldn’t be any more proud of this team."

Redfearn singled again in the fifth with two outs and scored on Sara Corbello’s RBI single to center.

"I’m just so proud of this team," Lotief said. "When things didn’t go their way, they didn’t whine, blame or quit. They just worked harder."