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Softball: No. 9 Cajuns sweep No. 13 Baylor

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, April 11, 2015



He’s still not back to his fully duties yet, but UL head softball coach Michael Lotief was at least back in the dugout during Saturday’s doubleheader with Baylor.(Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser)



Topping the list of encouraging signs at Lamson Park during Saturday’s 3-1, 12-2 doubleheader sweep of the No. 13-ranked Baylor Bears was the return of UL head softball coach Michael Lotief to the dugout.

He’s certainly not back to fully duty. He’s still not able to hold court with the media follow the game, but he was there.

“It meant the world to us,” senior designated player Leandra Maly said. “He’s been around a little more lately. Just being with him in the dugout was great.”

And as it turned out, that inspirational item topped a pretty long list of positive performances that had No. 9-ranked Ragin’ Cajun fans leaving with a smile.

Next up was senior starting pitcher Jordan Wallace.

After a troubling stretch of starts, culminating in the 14-13 road loss at Texas State on March 28, Wallace enjoyed a nice relief appearance last weekend against Georgia State.

Then came Saturday’s opening when Wallace threw a three-hitter with just one walk and eight strikeouts, disposing of the Bears in just 85 pitches.

“I thought Jordan was unbelievable in game one,” UL associate head coach T.J. Hubbard said. “That’s the Jordan we’re used to seeing. She went right after them. She did a great job of getting ahead and then finishing them off.”

Christina Hamilton started the second game and got the win after allowing six hits, including a two-run homer, walking none and striking out two. Alex Stewart pitched two scoreless innings in relief with three strikeouts.

Hamilton escaped two jams early to keep the game close until UL’s offense exploded.

That happened in the fourth inning of game two and it seemed to come out of the blue.

Despite getting two hits in the previous nine innings against Baylor’s pitching, the Cajuns just engulfed that 2-0 deficit with an incredible 12-run, sending 17 hitters to the plate.

“You don’t know when it’s going to happen,” Maly said. “It’s not like anybody’s going up there looking to get the big hit. The main goal is to pass the bat to the next person.”

Game two’s 12-run rally might have been the poster child for that “pass the bat” concept.

It was Maly who really got it going. With the bases loaded and no outs, Maly lined a single to left to drive in a run, before a Baylor throwing error chased home two more for a 3-2 UL lead.

“It (clutch RBI single) was cool,” Maly said. “I wanted to attack. I was just playing free like he (Lotief) tells us to do.”

Little did the visiting Bears know, Maly’s RBI was the beginning of an historic onslaught.

Aleah Craighton followed with an RBI double, Haley Hayden had a sacrifice fly and an RBI ground out, Sarah Corbello got an RBI hit by pitch and Kelsey Vincent delivered the biggest blow of the frame with a three-run homer.

Vincent has now homered in five of the last eight games, and she’s already equaled her RBI total of 27 from last season.

“I was proud of the way the kids fought in the second game after falling behind by a couple of runs,” Hubbard said. “That fourth inning was one of the most explosive innings I’ve ever seen.”

It was UL’s biggest inning since April of 2013 against Southern Mississippi. UL’s now reached double figures six times in the last nine games.

Ironically, UL’s hottest and biggest bat in Lexie Elkins only had a walk in that giant inning. Her offensive damage came in the first game with a two-run home run in the first inning to give her 20 with 50 RBIs on the season.

In the bigger picture, the Cajuns (32-5) are now 5-3 against ranked opponents. UL will finish out its regular season home slate at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Houston.

“The way we’re playing right now,” Hubbard said, “I think we can play with anyone in the country.”