Softball: Walsh’s home run to lead off 7th gives UL dramatic win over McNeese State
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, April 17, 2014
UL players greet Lexie Elkins at home plate after her two-run home run in the first inning against McNeese State during Wednesday’s 5-4 win at Lamson Park. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser )
It turned out to be a fitting situation for UL sophomore third baseman Samantha Walsh.
When asked if she had any walk-off home runs, even going back to her high school days, after leading off the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot to left to give the No. 17-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns a dramatic 5-4 win over McNeese State, Walsh hesitated and then remembered.
"I was actually a lead-off hitter in high school," laughed Walsh, UL’s clean-up in recent weeks.
She did remember a postseason in high school with three lead-off home runs, but not a walk-off homer.
That ironically came Wednesday night at Lamson Park as a lead-off hitter in the clean-up spot to push the Cajuns to 31-7-1 on the season.
"I’m going to keep working," said Walsh, who certainly left a long early-season slump in her rearview mirror. "There are always some ways that you can keep getting better, but I’m in a good place right now. My confidence is at an all-time high."
The Cajuns will now travel to Troy for a Sun Belt weekend series on Friday, while McNeese dropped to 30-12 with the loss.
It was actually an up-and-down night at the plate for Walsh, flying out to center on her first and third at-bats and driving in UL’s fourth run with an RBI single to right in the her second at-bat in the third.
"She had jammed me (inside) two times, so I knew it was going to be the same pitch," Walsh said.
"She (Walsh) was confident in that situation," UL coach Michael Lotief said. "She wanted to be in that situation. She had barely missed it (in previous at-bat). She said it (walking to the plate). If she got that pitch again, she wasn’t going to be trying for a base hit. She was going to come out of her shoes."
The dramatic homer earned a the win for Christina Hamilton, who gave up four frustrating runs (only two earned) on seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts. The vast majority of the hits were the infield variety.
"It was frustrating to me, because we expected that kind of a game," Lotief said. "They’re a speed team. They like to run and hit-and-run and put pressure on you defensively. They force you to make the plays."
Alanna DiVittorio walked and scored on a ground ball in the first and then got an infield single and scored on a Ashley Modzelewski sacrifice fly in the third. The Cowgirls then tied it with two runs in the sixth with both runs scored on an infield grounder that was thrown away at second.
"That’s a Regional team right there," Lotief said. "We knew they were going to be a good team. They have two wins over LSU and beat Alabama. They’re good.
"This was no trap game. Our team hasn’t had an emotional letdown all season long."
UL’s other offensive hero on the night was none other than sophomore catcher Lexie Elkins, who smashed a two-run homer in the first and then doubled off the wall in the third to help score a run after a Cowgirl throwing error, just ahead of Walsh’s RBI single.