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Softball: Voinche unlikely Cajun hero – Freshman’s power helps UL to 2 wins – 8-6 and 3-2, Mi & Val

Kevin Foote, Daily Advertiser, Feb. 15, 2014

Click here for digital photo gallery of UL vs. Michigan Softball.

All the signs pointed toward to an obvious story line on Friday night at Lamson Park.

The first one was the return of ace right-hander Jordan Wallace.

After suffering a back injury in the opening weekend of the season, UL Ragin’ Cajuns fans spent most of the week wondering when and if their All-American hurler would return.

Well, she walked right into the circle in the bottom of the first inning against No. 4-ranked Michigan.

Only that didn’t end up being the story of the night.

Speaking of Michigan, the rematch with the team that edged UL in the Super Regionals last year would seemingly be next in line.

Both, however, were overshadowed by the smallest girl on the whole team in 5-foot freshman shortstop Corin Voinche.

A girl who has undergone three knee surgeries in the last two years somehow found a way to hit the first home run of her live against No. 4 Michigan and then encore it with another blast in the nightcap against Valparaiso to help the No. 20-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns to an 8-6, 3-2 sweep on day one of the Ragin’ Cajun Invitational.

“Hitting a home run never entered by mind,” said a smiling Voinche, a former Teurlings Catholic standout.

How could it?

Two major knee surgeries since signing with UL would have ended the careers of most prospects. Then Voinche went through a phase of attempting to be a slapper. That experiment failed.

Then after hitting right-handed during high school, she moved to the left side and started the process of swinging away just two weeks ago.

Usually, Voinche plays defense and is often pinch-hit for, and that happened again Friday.

In the opener against Michigan, Voinche started the game, but didn’t get an at-bat until the sixth inning.

She was leading off the sixth and hit a fly ball to left that bounced off Sierra Lawrence’s glove and over the fence for a homer – the first home run over the fence in her life.

“I thought I hit it pretty well, but I was more worried about running the bases,” Voinche said. “It was a lot of fun. I was just trying to hit it hard somewhere and get on base.”

That homer sparked a two-run insurance frame in the sixth that gave UL an 8-1 lead at the time. It seemed like a lagniappe homer, but that two-run inning proved invaluable with the 8-6 final.

It was a similar situation in game two against Valparaiso. Fellow freshman Haley Hayden smashed a two-run homer in the third for a 2-0 lead.

Then came the fourth inning when Voinche unloaded on a solo home to rightcenter that was gone as soon as she hit it.

“I knew it (was homer) right off the bat on that one,” Voinche said. “I didn’t know if I would ever hit a homer. It is kind of a big night (for me).

“There were no guarantees that I’d ever play again, but I always knew that I would play again. I can’t explain why. I just knew.”

UL coach Michael Lotief couldn’t help but smile when considering Voinche’s achievement in Friday’s two wins.

”That was awesome to see,” Lotief said. “That was her coming-out party. That kid has been through so much. She’s been swinging the bat well. I’m so happy for her.

”I didn’t know that she had never hit a home run before. No wonder, she was so excited running around the bases.”

While those who knew Voinche’s story well understand the utter elation of the moment, seeing Wallace back and healthy enough to beat Michigan was the other exciting moment.

Through five innings, Wallace allowed just one run. She then gave up one in the sixth and four in the seventh.

“She just hit a wall in the fifth,” Lotief said. “It’s still early in the season. I felt bad for having to leave her out there like that, but we really didn’t have a choice. She’s such a competitor.”

Wallace’s job was made easier due to the Cajuns’ big bats. Natalie Fernandez singled and scored on Shelbi Redfearn’s sacrifice fly. Redfearn then joined Hayden in hitting solo home runs in the third for a 3-0 lead.

That lead grew to 6-0 with three more in the fifth, thanks to a Shellie Landry RBI single and a two-run single by Samantha Walsh.

The other hero in the nightcap was junior pitcher Christina Hamilton, who allowed just two runs on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

“I thought Christina did a great job,“ Lotief said. “She pitched very well.”

Ragin’ Cajuns Softball Invitational

(All games at Lamson Park, unless indicated)

Friday’s Games

Boston College 6, Central Arkansas 0
Boston College vs. Memphis 5, Boston College 3 (11)
Michigan 5, Memphis 0
Central Arkansas 4, Valparaiso 3
UL 8, Michigan 6
UL 3, Valparaiso 2

Saturday’s Games

9 a.m. – Valparaiso vs. Central Arkansas
11:30 a.m. – Memphis vs. Boston College (at Teurlings)
11:30 a.m. – Michigan vs. Central Arkansas
2 p.m. – UL vs. Michigan
4:30 p.m. – UL vs. Memphis
7 p.m. – Valparaiso vs. Boston College

Sunday’s Games

9 a.m. – Boston College vs. Michigan
11:30 a.m. – Valparaiso vs. Memphis
2 p.m. – UL vs. Central Arkansas
(All UL games will be aired on KPEL 1420-AM)