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Softball: Tankersley Powers Cajuns to Championship Bracket Semifinals

Matt Hebert, Sports Information –  

FULLERTON, Calif. – After sweeping through pool play with a perfect 3-0 record on Thursday and Friday at the Judi Garman Classic, the 17th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team opened play in the Championship Bracket on Saturday morning. 

UL, the #1 seed from Pool B met the #2 seed from Pool C, Penn State, in the quarterfinal round of the Championship Bracket. 

Louisiana overcame deficits twice in the game to take a 6-5 win over the Nittany Lions and advance to Sunday’s Championship Bracket semifinal meeting with No. 5 Arizona (20-6) at 10:30 a.m. (CDT).

The Cajuns improve to 28-6 with their seventh consecutive win and Penn State drops to 11-12. 

Brittany Cuevas was the winning pitcher for UL and improves to 17-3 overall, picking up her third win of the tournament.  Ashley Esparza, who relieved PSU starter Jenn Reynolds in the fourth inning was the losing pitcher and drops to 4-6.

After Cuevas retired the Nittany Lions in order in the top half of the first, UL struck for two quick runs in the bottom of the first. 

Melissa Verde led off with a bloop single to center and Holly Tankersley followed taking a 2-2 offering from Reynolds over the centerfield fence for her ninth home run of the season and team leading 37th and 38th RBI.

Penn State cut the lead in half in the top of the second on singles from Danielle Kinley and Kayce Zielinski and a sacrifice fly from Reynolds.

UL added a run in the bottom of the second, mounting a two-out rally.  Verde singled to right and later scored on a bases loaded walk issued to Desi Chatman and at the end of two complete innings of play the Cajuns led 3-1.

Penn State struck for three runs in the top half of the fourth to take a 4-3 lead on a solo home run from Kinley and a two run homer from Reynolds. 

UL tied the score at four-all in the bottom half of the inning on a Lacey Bertucci sacrifice fly to left field.  Bertucci’s sacrifice scored Verde who doubled earlier in the inning – her third hit of the game.

The Nittany Lions reclaimed the lead at 5-4 in the top of the fifth as Meghan Wolfer led off with an infield single and scored from first on an Esparza double to right center.

In the top half of the sixth inning Penn State loaded the bases with one out and Cajuns shortstop Codi Runyan gave UL a chance for the comeback with a tremendous defensive play fielding a line drive and completing the double play unassisted at third base. 

Louisiana-Lafayette took advantage in the bottom of the sixth.

Verde singled with one out – her fourth hit of the game – and Tankersley followed with a tape measure shot over the right field fence. The home run was Tankerksley’s second of the game and team-leading 10th of the season and gave the Cajuns a 6-5 lead.

Cuevas set PSU down in order in the top of the seventh and UL advanced to the semi-final round in Championship Bracket play where they will face #5 Arizona on Sunday morning.

Verde and Tankersley were the hitting stars for the Cajuns. Verde collected four hits (4-for-4) and Tankersley added two home runs and a single (3-for-3) to go along with her four RBI.


Louisiana-Lafayette 6, Penn State 5 (Mar 17, 2007 at Fullerton, Calif.)


Penn State………. 010 310 0 –  5  8  0      (11-12)

Louisiana-Lafayette. 210 102 X –  6  8  0      (28-6)


Pitchers: Penn State – Reynolds, Jenn; Esparza, Ashley(4). Louisiana-Lafayette – Cuevas, Brittany.

Win-Cuevas, Brittany(17-3)  Loss-Esparza, Ashley(4-6)

HR PSU – Kinley, Danielle; Reynolds, Jenn.

HR UL – Tankersley, Holly 2.