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Softball: Wallace Ks 18 to wrap up sweep

UL's Nerissa Myers was the only Cajun with more than one hit in Sunday's 6-0 win over Middle Tennessee. 
UL’s Nerissa Myers was the only Cajun with more than one hit in Sunday’s 6-0 win over Middle Tennessee. / Leslie Westbrook/lwestbrook@theadvertiser.com

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, April 15, 2013

If it looks like UL ace pitcher Jordan Wallace is having more fun in the circle these days for the Ragin’ Cajuns, it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you.

She definitely is.

It’s the opposing batters who are battling the frowns of late when Wallace pitches. Middle Tennessee’s lineup was overwhelmed to the tune of a career-high 18 strikeouts Sunday at Lamson Park in UL’s 6-0 victory that sewed up the weekend sweep of the Blue Raiders.

The Cajuns are now 30-11 overall, 11-4 in league play and are now riding a 12-game winning streak.

“She’s been real good the last three weeks,” UL coach Michael Lotief laughed.

It was the second straight Sunday afternoon that Wallace struck out at least 16. In ner near-flawless performance yesterday, Wallace yielded one hit and walked just one to go along with the 18 strikeouts.

“Success is finally coming out of all the (early season ) struggles,” Wallace said.

Both Wallace and Lotief have explained throughout the season that the sophomore right-hander spent much of the first half of the season tweaking her pitching approach, taking steps that really should have been walked through during the fall.

“Early in the season, I was having to fix my mechanics in the middle of games,” Wallace said. “Now, I’m at the point where I can fix them on the next pitch.”

Lotief said he took over the pitch-calling after some of the early struggles “just to force Wallace to get out of her comfort zone” in order to push her into the stage she’s currently enjoying.

“I forced her into pitches that might have cost us a walk or a hit or even a loss earlier this season,” Lotief said. “I’ll take that. Some of those losses were on me. But we had to do it to get to where she is right now. And we’re not there yet, but she’s got the feel of it two or three weeks ago.”

On Sunday, Wallace struck out the side in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, and then again in the seventh. The total of 18 was her career high, but the school record is Brooke Mitchell in 2004 in an extra inning contest.

“We’re working with three different spins,” Wallace said. “My ball is jumping around a lot more, so there’s a lot more movement and I have more command of it now.”

As it turned out, all the offense Wallace would need came in the first inning when Nerissa Myers singled and scored on Samantha Walsh’s two-out RBI single.

UL did add a four-run third, however, to make it easier on Wallace. A run-scoring double by Matte Haack and RBI singles by Sarah Draheim and Sarah Corbello powered that scoring frame.

The Cajuns, who will next host Houston in a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday, collected 10 total hits from nine different players.

“With this group, it’s day-to-day and practice-to-practice,” Lotief said. “Believe me, even after a series like this, there’s a long list of things we have to get better at.”

But …

“It’s hard to be a bad coach when your pitcher strikes out 18.”