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Softball: Sanders Provides Key Swings in Sweep of Georgia State

DJ Sanders 04.23.15 (2)


Box Score 1
Box Score 2


 ATLANTA – DJ Sanders provided the winning runs in both ends of the No. 5-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team’s Sun Belt Conference doubleheader on Saturday at Bob Heck Field as the squad swept Georgia State 4-1, 6-5.
Sanders ended a scoreless affair in Game 1 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. That was enough offense for Alex Stewart who allowed one run and scattered seven hits in picking up her 16th win of the season.
With the Ragin’ Cajuns (31-3, 12-1 Sun Belt) down to their final two outs in Game 2 and trialing 5-4, Sanders launched a towering two-run home run over the right field fence to help her team overcome a wild fifth inning that saw the Panthers (19-21, 4-7 Sun Belt) take advantage of miscues to pull ahead.
Sanders completed the day with a doubleheader-high two home runs and four RBI. She increased her season home run total to 13, which trails only Lexie Elkins (17) for the team lead.
No. 5 Louisiana stretched its current overall win streak to six games and Sun Belt win streak to eight games. The sweep of the twinbill secured the 26th consecutive Sun Belt Conference series victory, a streak which dates back to March 2013.
The Ragin’ Cajuns come-from-behind win in Game 2 allowed the team to maintain its one-game lead over South Alabama (23-11, 11-2 Sun Belt), which swept UT Arlington, for first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings.
Louisiana and Georgia State complete the Sun Belt series with an 11 a.m. (CDT) single game on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM with Steve Peloquin and Bobby Neveaux on the call.
After two innings of hitless action in the opener, both offenses picked up two hits in the third inning. Both GSU’s Katie Worley and Stewart worked around the traffic.
Brittany Nollkamper led off the top of the third with her first collegiate hit, then Kassidy Zeringue lifted a single down the left field line. Worley retired the next three Cajuns to escape the jam.
The Panthers collected a pair of two-out hits off of Stewart in the bottom of the third, but she induced a grounder to second base for the final out.
Louisiana struck first, scoring in the next inning with the two-run home run by Sanders that scored Aleah Craighton who led off the inning with a wind-blown infield single.
Georgia State loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the fourth and scratched a run on a misplay of a grounder to trim the Cajuns lead to 2-1. Back-to-back ground balls to Kara Gremillion at third base forced out the lead runner at home plate then Stewart induced a fly ball from Ivie Drake to protect the lead.
Stewart, who shutout the Panthers over their final three at bats, received insurance runs in the seventh inning on a two-run home run by Shellie Landry that increased the lead to 4-1.
After getting traffic in the first two innings of Game 2, but being kept off the board as GSU’s Annie Davis induced ground ball outs, Louisiana was able to break through in the third inning.
Haley Hayden (single), Landry (single) and Kelsey Vincent (walk) all reached in succession to start the inning. Craighton muscled a single into left center scoring Hayden with the game’s first run. A grounder to shortstop and a leaping catch at third base that resulted in a double play allowed GSU to prevent further damage.
The Panthers countered in the bottom of the third by loading the bases with one out after a single by Reagan Morgan. Kylee Jo Trahan notched a strikeout and induced a fly ball to hold the lead at 1-0.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added a run in the top of the fourth after an error on a Zeringue bunt single, then two more in the fifth inning when Craighton powered a two-run homer over the right field wall.
GSU turned the momentum in its favor in the fifth inning and erased the 4-0 deficit with a five-run rally. The hosts scored two runs on a home run by Drake and took advantage of Cajuns miscues to add three more runs to take a 5-4 lead.
Victoria Brown, the Cajuns second reliever in the inning, eventually quieted the Panthers uprising, notching three straight outs with the bases loaded. She struck out Brenna Skalski, induced a grounder to Sanders for a force out at home and then Gremillion scooped up a grounder from Drake and fired to Vincent for the final out.
The Panthers held the lead until Sanders’ heroics in the seventh inning.
DIAMOND NOTES: The Ragin’ Cajuns homered twice in both games increasing the number of games with multiple home runs to 21…Louisiana has hit at least one home run in 26 of 34 games…The Cajuns have hit multiple home runs in the last eight Sun Belt Conference games (dates back to Troy series opener) and have 33 in league play this season…The seventh inning rally was the team’s third in Sun Belt play – also erased a 6-2 sixth inning deficit vs. South Alabama and 2-0 deficit in the sixth inning vs. Texas State…Louisiana improved to 26-0 when scoring first, while the Game 2 rally by GSU marked only the second time an opponent took the lead in a game in which the squad scored first (Game 1 vs. Texas Tech, Feb. 25)…Alex Stewart extended her Sun Belt Conference shutout streak to 36 innings before GSU plated a run in the fourth inning of Game 1…Stewart’s Game 1 performance marked the 25th time that the pitching staff held an opponent to two runs or fewer (24-1 record)…GSU’s five runs in Game 2 marked only the third time (in 34 games) that the opposition reached five runs…DJ Sanders collected her 10th and 11th multiple-RBI games of the season and upped her career total to 19…Aleah Craighton‘s three RBI in Game 2 marked the sixth time she’s reached the tally in 2016 and 13th time in her career…The fifth inning home run by Aleah Craighton in Game 2 was her 12th of the season, which equals her personal single-season best hit last season as a redshirt freshman…Shellie Landry‘s home run in Game 1 moved her within one of her 50th career homer (enters Sunday’s finale with 49 career home runs)…At 31-3, the Ragin’ Cajuns have their best mark through 34 games since the 2012 season (33-1)…Louisiana extended its series win streak over Georgia State to 13 games and remained undefeated in Sun Belt play (8-0) against the Panthers…The all-time series advantage over GSU now stands at 17-2 (5-0 in Atlanta)…The two programs are competing in their third Sun Belt series overall and second in Atlanta…The Cajuns swept the initial SBC series in Atlanta in 2014 and again in 2015 at Lamson Park…The three SBC series mark the first meetings on either school’s campus – first 10 took place in tournaments at neutral sites.