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Ms. Codi "Coco" Runyan
Graduated 2004

128 Oak Lane
Port Barre, LA 70577


Home Phone: 375-662-128
Work Phone: --
Fax: --
Email: rheatap24@earthlink.net

Softball: Extra work pays off

April 11, 2005 –
Codi Runyan’s bat helps UL sweep New Mexico State.

Bruce Brown

Codi Runyan didn’t like going hitless on Saturday, so that evening she turned on the lights on her car, got her brother to pitch to her and got in some extra swings at the family’s home batting cage.

She was getting the chance to start at shortstop for Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, and she didn’t want to waste the opportunity.

On Sunday, Runyan went 4-for-6 and delivered her first collegiate home run as the Cajuns swept New Mexico State 5-0 and 8-1 to finish a perfect 4-0 start to another defense of their reign as Sun Belt Conference champions.

“I was frustrated earlier,” the Port Barre product said. “I’m just trying to get a little bit better every day. Coach Mike (Lotief) knows my swing. I just take what he tells me and try to apply it.”

With third baseman Tara Hamilton sidelined for the weekend with the flu, senior shortstop Tiffany Hebert slid over to third and Runyan stepped up at shortstop as UL opened conference play.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Runyan said. “I was ready for the chance. Coach motivates us to be better than we thought we could be. Tara is feeling really bad this weekend, and I feel bad for her.”

As the Cajuns (28-7) were steaming toward completion of Sunday’s second game, Runyan made a couple of throws from deep in the hole – the second one on the run – that showed off her strong arm on defense.

“Lacey helps me out a tremendous amount,” Runyan said of first baseman Lacey Bertucci. “Sometimes I’m not so accurate, and she really helps me.”

“Defensively,” Lotief said, “Codi came here good. And she was taking charge out there. You also have to give credit to Tiffany next to her. For a senior like Tiffany to move to a new position and help a kid like that means a lot.

“The team and her (Hebert) helped Codi feel comfortable out there.”

Lotief was happy with the Cajuns’ performance on Sunday, which included 9 hits in the opener and another 13 in the final game, after a pair of defensive wins (1-0, 3-0) on Saturday.

“We struggled at the plate on Saturday,” he said. “But we made adjustments and things got better. We played well.”

It was also a bonus that the Cajuns used ace pitchr Brooke Mitchell for just 14 innings on the weekend. Mitchell improved to 19-6 while combining with Ashley Kirchberg for a no-hitter in Sunday’s opener, while Heather Bobbitt (6-0) and Kirchberg handled things in Game Two.

“We didn’t put a lot of wear on Brooke,” Lotief said. “That’s the first time I remember us being able to do that. We’ve never been able to win in the Sun Belt with our No. 2 pitcher. We’ve always put Brooke out there.

“I’m proud of Heather and Ashley.”

“Heather has continued to strive to get better,” UL coach Stefni Lotief said. “And Brooke has been a tremendous mentor for her both on and off the field. She’s been a role model for her, a Christian model in the grand scheme of life.”

In Sunday’s opener, Danyele Gomez singled in the first inning and was plated by a hot Bertucci double up the left field line.

Consecutive fifth-inning infield singles by Hebert and Jill Robertson paid off when Brittany Bryant placed a two-run single behind third base. Then in the Cajun sixth, Runyan drove a Sarah Seagraves pitch over the wall in right center for a homer that also scored Crystal George.

The second game was over almost before it began.

Bryant was safe on a two-out infield single and scored on a Bertucci double to right field. Joy Webre followed with a two-run home run to left that sent Seagraves to the dugout. Bryant later scored on a double steal to make it 4-0 in the third.

Runyan, Hebert, Robertson and Danyele Gomez stroked four singles in a row in the fourth to pad it to 6-0 and Desi Chatman’s two-run triple finished the scoring in the UL sixth.

“I really like the fact that everybody is starting to step up and contribute,” Michael Lotief said.

“We come out ready to play Arizona every day,” Runyan said. “We pick a top (NCAA) seed and play like that’s who we’re playing. So we’re ready to play every day.”

Nighttime batting practice helps keep it that way.

Originally published April 11, 2005