Softball: Cajuns Sweep ULM and Capture Sun Belt Championship
MONROE – With a doubleheader sweep of ULM Saturday afternoon at the ULM Softball Complex by scores of 9-3, 20-2 (5 inn.) and South Alabama’s split at Troy the No. 10 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team captured the 2015 Sun Belt Conference regular season championship.
Louisiana (36-8, 19-3 Sun Belt) generated 29 runs off 33 hits in the doubleheader, which included 12 home runs, to claim the program’s second consecutive SBC regular season title and 13th in the 15 year existence of the league.
The Ragin’ Cajuns conclude the regular season on Sunday in a 12 p.m., single game against the Warhawks (28-19, 10-11 Sun Belt).
Aleah Craighton finished the doubleheader with four home runs, hitting two in each game for her second and third multi-home run games of the season. She finished 5-for-8 at the plate with nine RBI which included a career-high six RBI in Game 2.
Shellie Landry turned in a 7-for-9 performance and tied her career-high for hits with four in Game 1. Lexie Elkins hit a home run in each game, increasing her season total to 27 which moves her within three of tying Danyele Gomez’s single-season record 30 hit in 2006.
The home run production increased the Cajuns’ season total to 95. Louisiana eclipsed 90 home runs for the second straight season (90 in 2014) and moved within five of reaching 100 for only the second time in school history (102 in 2006).
Jordan Wallace (15-4, 2.07 ERA) struck out 13 in Game 1 increasing her career strikeouts total to 862 which ties Ashley Brignac for second place. Christina Hamilton (9-2, 2.49 ERA) limited ULM to one hit and struck out six in her three innings of work in Game 2, extending her streak of undefeated starts in Sun Belt play to 20 games dating back to 2011.
With the sweep the Cajuns won their eighth Sun Belt series in as many played and stretched their win streak over the Warhawks to 11 games.
Elkins homered and gave the Cajuns a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the opener. A solo home run from Landry in the third inning increased the lead to 3-0.
ULM drew even in the bottom half of the third after a two-run home run by Vanessa Garcia knotted the score at 3-all. The tie was short-lived as Craighton launched a solo home run to start to the top of the fourth, vaulting the Cajuns ahead 4-3.
After her teammates returned the lead to her, Wallace made it stand. She struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth and wound up finishing the game retiring 12 of the final 13 ULM batters she faced.
The Cajuns pulled away with a two-run home run by Craighton in the fifth inning and home runs from Landry (solo) and Samantha Walsh (two-run) in the sixth inning.
Wallace picked up career win No. 88, improving her all-time mark to 88-18. She is two wins shy of becoming only the fourth pitcher in program history to reach 90 wins and trails Ashley Brignac by six wins for third place.
Louisiana extended innings in Game 2 by collecting 14 hits in two-out situations and posting 17 of 20 RBI with two outs.
A two-run home run by Walsh with two outs in the first inning opened the scoring. Haley Hayden brought home two runs with a two-out triple in the second inning, followed by an RBI single from Landry that brought her home and the Cajuns led 5-0 after two at bats.
Craighton’s first home run of the game came with two outs in the third inning and increased the lead to 7-0.
The Cajuns sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 12 runs in the fourth inning put the game away. Craighton’s second home run of the game, a grand slam, came during the scoring spree and pushed the lead to double digits at 13-0.
The Warhawks avoided the shutout in the fifth inning when Faith Bohack singled up the middle off of Kylee Jo Trahan with the bases loaded.
Hamilton posted her first victory since March 22 vs. Troy. Six strikeouts tallied was her second-highest mark of the season. ULM got two baserunners in the first inning, but nothing in Hamilton’s final two innings of work. The senior hurler retired the side in order in the second and third inning, striking out five of the six batters faced.
DIAMOND NOTES: The 12 home runs in the doubleheader marked the third time this season that the Cajuns have hit 10-plus in a doubleheader (11 at TXST on March 28, 13 at APP on April 18)…The Cajuns picked up their 23rd and 24th multi-home run games of the season…Louisiana is hitting .397 with 61 home runs in Sun Belt Conference play…Lexie Elkins tops the team with a .580 average and 20 home runs in SBC play…Aleah Craighton and Samantha Walsh each increased their season home run total to 11, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns six players with double digit home runs…DJ Sanders increased her season base hits total to 31 and now all Cajuns starters in the lineup have posted at least 30 hits…Shellie Landry‘s four hits in Game 1 tied her career-high and marked her first four-hit game since May 10, 2013 vs. FAU in the Sun Belt Tournament at Troy…Aleah Craighton last posted a multiple-home run game during Game 2 of the Texas State doubleheader back on March 28…Louisiana improved to 98-27 all-time vs. ULM…The Cajuns improved to 20-5 vs. the Warhawks in Sun Belt Conference play and have won all nine SBC series between the two programs…The 11-game win streak over the Warhawks dates back to the second game of the 2012 series held at Lamson Park…The Ragin’ Cajuns list of Sun Belt regular season championship seasons include: 2001-06, 2008-12 and 2014-15.