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Softball: Verde, Cajuns Slam LSU, 9-4

Melissa Verde hit a grand slam in the third inning to break a scoreless tie and give the Cajuns a lead they would not relinquish.
View larger Courtesy: RaginCajuns.com
Melissa Verde hit a grand slam in the third inning to break a scoreless tie and give the Cajuns a lead they would not relinquish.


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Verde, Cajuns Slam LSU, 9-4

BATON ROUGE, La.-Melissa Verde (Beaumont, Texas) hit her third career grand
slam to break a scoreless tie in the third inning and Louisiana’s Ragin’
Cajuns (48-12) never looked back as they claimed a 9-4 victory over Louisiana
State at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. 

The Ragin’ Cajuns advance into Championship Sunday undefeated for the first
time since Super Regional play began in 2005 and for the first time since
2003 when the Cajuns advanced to the College World Series. 

For Verde, the grand slam was the third of her short career and the first
since she hit one against Seton Hall on Mar. 2, 2007 in an 18-0 Cajuns’
victory at the Easton Spring Fling in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  Her first grand slam
came against then-ranked No. 17 Baylor at the 2007 Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational
on Feb. 17, 2007 in a 10-2 UL win. 

Verde was not the only Cajun player with a hot bat in the game.  The Cajuns
collected a dozen hits in the win and improved to 22-0 on the year when
collecting double-digit hits. 

Senior transfer Vanessa Soto (San Diego, Calif.) collected three hits against
her old team, including a pair of doubles and a triple.  Soto was joined by
Gabriele Bridges (Lafitte, La.) and Brooke Brodhead (Lafayette, La.) who each
collected multiple hits in the game.  Bridges finished the game with a pair
of hits including a double and three RBI. 

Verde was the only other Cajuns with multiple RBI collecting four runs batted
in with her grand slam. 

In the circle, Ashley Brignac (River Ridge, La.) picked up her 28th victory
of the season with the win.  She worked a complete game scattering six hits
and allowing four runs.  Brignac fanned eight batters, including a stretch of
four consecutive strikeouts.  Her eighth strikeout sealed the win and sent
the Cajuns into the championship game. 

The Cajuns jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the third inning. 
Louisiana scored five runs on five hits.  The inning was highlighted by a
grand slam by Verde.  Vallie Gaspard (Maurice, La.) led off the inning by
reaching base on a fielding error.  Soto followed with a double to
centerfield.  Holly Tankersley (Kirbyville, Texas) was intentionally walked
to load the bases for UL.  Verde made the Tigers pay by hitting a grand slam
over the right field walk to give the Cajuns a 4-0 lead. 

It was the second time in the last two weeks that Verde made a team pay for
intentionally walking Tankersley.  In the Sun Belt Conference Tournament,
Florida International intentionally walked Tankersley to get to Verde and the
sophomore cleared the bases with a double to help the Cajuns to an 8-2 win. 

The Ragin’ Cajuns were not finished in the third.  Lana Bowers (Crosby,
Texas) doubled to left centerfield to continue the inning and moved to third
on a Bridges single to right centerfield.  Brodhead singled down the left
field line to plate Bowers and give UL a 5-0 lead after three innings. 

UL batted around for a second time in as many innings in the fourth inning,
plating four runs on three hits.  Gaspard led off the inning with a four-
pitch walk.  Soto scored Gaspard with a triple down the right field line. 
Verde walked to give the Cajuns runners on the corners.  Bowers walked to
load the bases and Bridges cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to left

Three outs away from a mercy-rule in the fifth inning, the Tigers battled
back to score two runs and continue the game.  After a ground out to start
the inning, Brignac surrendered a walk to give LSU a base runner.  Jessica
Mouse put the Tigers on board as she hit a two-run home run off of the
scoreboard in left centerfield. 

The Bayou Bangles repeated their fifth inning efforts and added two more runs
in the sixth inning.  After retiring the leadoff batter, Brignac once again
surrendered a walk.  The next batter, Quinlan Duhon, cut the UL lead to just
five runs with a home run to left field.  Despite another walk in the inning,
the Cajuns were able to halt the LSU rally and take a 9-4 lead into the
bottom of the sixth. 

The Cajuns loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but with two outs
Soto hit a deep fly ball that the LSU right fielder Duhon chased down and
caught at the warning track to spare any runs. 

In the top of the seventh, Katie Smith (Ruston, La.) saved a home run as she
jumped into the wall and took away a homer from Mouse.  LSU followed the out
with back-to-back singles, but the runners would advance no further as a pop
up and a strikeout ended the game. 

The Ragin’ Cajuns will play the winner of the night cap between LSU and the
winner of the East Carolina/Mississippi Valley State game in the championship
game on Sunday afternoon.  First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m.


Chris Whitehead
UL-Lafayette Sports Information
201 Reinhardt Drive
Lafayette, LA 70506
(337) 851-2255