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Softball: Cajuns Wins 6th Consecutive Conference Title

Softball: Cajuns Wins 6th Consecutive Conference Title

Softball: Cajuns Wins 6th Consecutive Conference Title

Matt Hebert, Sports Information –

MUFREESBORO, Tenn. – Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns softball team wasn’t settling for a share of the 2006 Sun Belt Conference regular season championship.

The 15th-ranked squad clubbed Middle Tennessee 11-0 in five innings to end the 2006 regular season as the undisputed league champions and wrap up the program’s sixth consecutive outright SBC title.

UL (45-10, 12-3 Sun Belt) remains the only champion that the Sun Belt Conference has ever known since the inception of the softball league in 2001.

Pitchers Ashley Kirchberg and Krystal Lewallen combined on a five-hit shutout – the staff’s second straight blanking of an opponent. Kirchberg picked up the win tossing the first three innings for her 13th consecutive victory to improve her overall record to 23-1 and her Sun Belt-only mark to 8-0.

The offense came out attacking as the Ragin’ Cajuns scored five runs in the first and second innings. UL pounded out 16 hits with every starter collecting at least one base hit.

Four players contributed two RBI apiece – Ashley Evans, Holly Tankersley, Jessica Lemoine and Codi Runyan – and UL hit two more home runs to push the team season total to 98.

The victory was the Cajuns’ 28th straight win over Middle Tennessee extending a streak which began when the series started in 2001. UL is now 11-0 all-time in Murfreesboro at Blue Raider Field.

Brittany Bryant set the tone for the Cajuns offensive outburst when she began the game with a solo home run deep over the left field fence. The home run was Bryant’s 12th of the season – the most amongst all second baseman in the Sun Belt.

Danyele Gomez ripped a single through the left side and Lacey Bertucci walked. The Blue Raiders made a pitching change lifting Samantha Floyd for Laura Moore. Moore was greeted by a two-RBI double off the bat of Ashley Evans down the left field line that scored Gomez and Bertucci for a 3-0 lead.

The lead quickly jumped to 5-0 on the very next at bat when Holly Tankersley drilled a Moore offering out over the right field fence and onto a street that passed behind Blue Raider Field. UL led 5-0 after Tankersley’s ninth home run of the season.

Moore would escape further damage in the first inning, but the Cajuns had more fireworks packed in for the second inning as five more runs were plated giving the guests a 10-0 lead after two innings of play.

After Gomez led off the inning with a groundout to shortstop, Lacey Bertucci doubled to center field, Evans walked and Tankersley singled to left center to load the bases. UL would do all of its damage with sound two-out hitting. Tara Hamilton started it off with a two-out RBI single through the left side for a 6-0 lead.

Lemoine kept the pressure on Moore when she drove an offering into left field plating Evans and Tankersley to make it 8-0.

Evans’ run had historical value to it. It was the team’s 400th run of the 2006 campaign. The 2006 team which set the school record for runs in a season in Saturday’s second game became the first UL team to reach 400 runs in a season with Evans’ tally.

Two more runs scored right after Lemoine’s single when Runyan golfed a shot off the top of the left field fence to clear the bases and put UL up 10-0.

UL put the offense into cruise control the rest of the game as several subs were made to give all players ample playing time.

The Cajuns would score one more run when Gomez picked up an RBI single with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

Lewallen tossed the final two innings in relief of Kirchberg and was effective. She held the Blue Raiders to only one base hit and that was an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Kirchberg and Lewallen combined for the team’s 22nd shutout of the season and fourth in Sun Belt play.

Gomez ended the regular season as the Sun Belt Conference’s “Triple Crown" winner as she finished with a .456 average, 28 home runs and 64 RBI. Gomez ended the regular season with 83 base hits which is the third-most in school history heading into the postseason. Gomez needs five more hits to surpass Tiffany Clark’s record of 87 set in 1999.

Tankersley (3-for-4) and Runyan (3-for-3) each ended the day with three-hit games.

No. 15 Louisiana-Lafayette now turns its attention to the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Tournament where the Ragin’ Cajuns will be the No. 1 seed. UL will meet the Middle Tennessee-Troy winner at 5:30 p.m. (CST) on Thursday, May 11 in its tournament opener.

LINE SCORE

#15 Louisiana-Lafayette 11, Middle
Tennessee 0
(May 07, 2006 at
Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
———————————————————————-
Louisiana-Lafayette. 550 10 – 11 16 0 (45-10, 12-3 SUN BELT)
Middle
Tennessee…. 000 00 – 0 5 0 (19-40-1, 6-9 SUN BELT)
———————————————————————-
Pitchers: Louisiana-Lafayette – Kirchberg; Lewallen(4). Middle
Tennessee – Floyd;
Moore(1);
Katinas(3).
Win-Kirchberg(23-1) Loss-Floyd(2-5) T-1:40 A-150
HR UL – Bryant (12); Tankersley (9).
Floyd faced 3 batters in the 1st.