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Softball: Elkins powers UL’s softball sweep of ULM

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, May 5, 2014

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The UL Monroe Warhawks were in trouble before the first pitch was even thrown in Sunday’s Sun Belt series finale against the No. 13-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns at Lamson Park.

Sure, naturally there’s the fact that the Cajuns had won 32 of the last 34 games and had only lost once in 19 league games so far this season.

But it went deeper than that.

During Saturday’s 8-6, 7-0 doubleheader sweep of ULM, UL’s standout catcher Lexie Elkins had a rare off day at the plate, going a combined 1-for-5 with no RBIs.

More than likely, that meant the Warhawks pitching staff would have their hands full with Elkins on Sunday and that’s exactly what happened.

Elkins was 3-for-3 with a home run and five RBIs to ignite UL’s 9-3 victory over ULM that secured the weekend sweep and allowed the Cajuns to finish out the Sun Belt season 19-1.

"I wasn’t any more focused at the plate today than I was yesterday," Elkins said. "I’m just glad that somebody else had a big day yesterday."

Like he does after most games, UL coach Michael Lotief gazes at the boxscore and is impressed by Elkins’ contribution to the team.

"I’ve liked what she’s brought to our team all year long," Lotief said. "I love her will to win. There’s a lot to like about her."

Both Elkins and Lotief like what they saw from UL starter Jordan Wallace, who started Sunday’s game after a promising inning in relief in Saturday’s nightcap that allowed Wallace to leave the field with a big smile.

"She definitely had a better mindset today," Elkins said. "It was a good outing for her."

Wallace pitched four innings, allowing just one run on two htis with four walks and seven strikeouts.

Wallace gave up two baserunners to open the fifth and was relieved by Victoria Brown, who did yield a seeing-eye RBI single to cut the lead to 2-1 in that fifth inning, but stranded a pair.

UL’s bats then exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take full command. Elkins highlighted the big frame with a two-run single and Redfearn later added a sacrifice fly.

The Cajuns’ lineup put a bow on its days work in the bottom of the sixth with solo homers by Elkins and Samantha Walsh, who was 2-for-4 on the day.

That was enough to make Wallace a winner to improve her record to 14-3 on the season. Brown went the final three innings, yielding two unearned runs on two hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

"I felt good out there," Wallace said. "It was important to get my confidence back."

The Cajuns now seemingly have three pitchers with confidence heading into the start of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament that will be played Wednesday through Saturday at Lamson Park. UL’s first game will be at 5 p.m. Thursday against an opponent to be determined.

"It’s not just the pitchers," Lotief said. "Everybody on the team is in the mix at this point. It’s going to take everybody."