Softball: Cajuns remain calm in high-pressure sixth, hold on for win + photo gallery
Nick Fontenot, Special to The Advertiser, April 5, 2019
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UL's Sarah Hudek makes a catch in the outfield to get the last out of the inning as the Ragin' Cajuns take on the University of Texas Arlington Mavericks at Yvette Girouard Field on Friday, April 5, 2019. (Photo: James Mays/Special to the Advertiser)
The Cajuns’ 4-1 win over UT-Arlington Friday featured high drama in the game’s sixth inning.
It appeared to be strike three. It appeared to be three outs. Cajuns catcher Julie Rawls even tossed the ball in the air and the inning appeared to be over.
But Summer Ellyson’s full-count pitch to UT-Arlington’s Aileen Garcia was called ball four by the home plate umpire. At the time, the Cajuns were up 2-1 and the tying run was at third.
“That could have been a total disaster for us,” UL coach Gerry Glasco said. “That's a great lesson for our young catcher to learn. She needs to make sure she hears that strike called.”
Garcia made her way to second and now the tying and winning runs are in scoring position. First basemen Kourtney Gremillion had the wherewithal to pick up the ball to hold the runner at third.
Ellyson, however, stayed cool — as she tends to do — and was unfazed by the predicament she found herself in.
She threw a pitch right down the middle to the next batter, K.J. Murphy. Murphy roped one down the left field line, which was sure to score both base runners. Sarah Hudek, however, made what she called “my best play of the year” as she made a diving, game-saving catch.
"You can tell by the reaction of the whole team how we felt about it," Hudek said. "I think Summer did a good job of not letting that affect her and still throwing strikes and trusting her defense. We all had the mentality that we are going to catch anything and maybe having that extra distaste in our mouths about that call before made us focus a little bit harder."
Hudek said she saw the ball dying down — and it was definitely going to land in fair territory — but she wasn’t going to let it go without a dive.
“I was diving no matter what,” she said. “At that point, it was do or die and the coaching staff has made me so confident in my outfield. It was a momentum stopper and it showed on the scoreboard in the next inning.”
The Cajuns added two runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure the 4-1 win. Hudek also helped at the plate by hitting her ninth home run of the season in the fifth inning.
Glasco said Hudek’s catch and hit show what kind of player she is.
“It was a great game for her because her first two at bats, she got herself out on change ups,” Glasco said. “I’m getting on her about it a little bit and it showed what kind of competitor she is to come back and hit that home run. And then her catch was so big.
“I think it was really good for our girls to get in a rattled position where they can absolutely crumble. As long as they can emulate Summer — because she just stays cool and calm. Our whole team just stayed calm and played the game one pitch at a time.”
Ellyson continued her impressive beginning of the season by pitching the entire game Saturday, giving up just three hits while striking out 11. Glasco said the emergence of Carrie Boswell as the clear No. 2 has Ellyson not only feeling fresher, but feeling even more confident than before.
“I think she is feeling less pressure right now,” Glasco said. “She had 11 strikeouts. Having Carrie throwing well gives Summer that reassurance that she knows she doesn't have to be out there every single time. That is a big difference mentally.”