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Softball: Rodriguez, Ellyson help UL survive marathon

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, May 5, 2018

Apparently, all Brittany Rodriguez needed was a little extra motivation.

That came in the form on an intentional walk in front of her with one out and one on of a scoreless game in the bottom of the 14th inning.

After the visiting ULM Warhawks had played great defense all night long, they finally blinked when Casidy Chaumont reached on an error to open the frame.

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Kalyn Watts, who delivered UL’s defensive highlight of the night with a double-play cannon toss to first base from left field, perfectly executed the bunt to advance Chaumont. Kara Gremillion was then put on, and Rodriguez quickly delivered with the game-winning RBI single to center for the dramatic 1-0 win Friday at Lamson Park.

“I love it; I love it,” Rodriguez said of Gremillion being intentionally walked in front of her. “I love being underrated. As soon as they started walking her, I told myself, ‘I got this.’ It’s definitely motivating. It puts a little fire under your butt. I liked it. You love being underestimated.”

With that said, Rodriguez claimed she maintained her poise, still not over-swinging or overthinking the situation.

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“I was thinking I’ve got to move these runners and get them into scoring position, because Alissa Dalton is having a wonderful night hitting right behind me,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking I had to do it myself. I was just thinking about getting the ball out of the infield.”

She did just that to allowed the exhausted Cajuns (34-13, 19-6) and their 1,716 fatigued fans to go home happy.

“We did hit a lot of hard balls at people,” Rodriguez said. “We knew that if we kept hitting hard ground balls and line drives, we knew eventually they were going to fall. It was hard to be patient, but we knew it was going to happen eventually.”

Through it all, Rodriguez said the one thing that kept the pressure off the Cajuns was having ace right-hander Summer Ellyson in the circle.

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Ellyson was on her game in this one. The former Teurlings Catholic standout allowed just five hits, walked none and struck out 18 to earn her 18th win of the season.

“When Summer’s pitching a game like that, it’s honestly no pressure,” Rodriguez said. “I knew that Summer was going to hold them. We just needed a run and we’d be fine.”

Ellyson threw 156 pitches on the night, while ULM starter Paige Murray threw 132 with her 10.1 shutout innings.

UL’s lineup actually got 11 hits, but couldn’t scratch the scoreboard until the 14th inning. As Rodriguez said, many of the Cajuns’ outs were hard-hit balls right at Warhawk defenders. Plus, two Cajuns were thrown out at the plate.

Now comes the chore of trying to sweep a doubleheader Saturday likely without Ellyson available in the circle.