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Softball Claims Sun Belt Title, NCAA Bid with Dominant Performance
Five-run outburst in first at bat quickly separates 14th-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns from South Alabama
TROY, Ala. – With five runs plated in the first inning No. 14 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball was off and running to a 15-3 (5 inn.) win over South Alabama on Saturday (May 15) in the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship Game at the Troy Softball Complex.
The first three Ragin' Cajuns to step to the plate each tallied a base hit finished off by a two-run single from Kendall Talley. Later in the opening frame it was a bases-clearing double from Jade Gortarez that stretched the lead to 5-0, proving to be an insurmountable deficit for the Jaguars to overcome.
The triumph was shored up – and little doubt was left in the final outcome – in the third inning when a trio of two-run home runs coming off the bats of Alissa Dalton, Sophie Piskos and Bailey Curry expanded Louisiana's lead out to 11-1.
Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year and the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Summer Ellyson, who was handed a comfortable lead before she stepped into the circle, scattered five hits and struck out five over four innings of work to land her third win of the week.
Louisiana (44-10) captured its second consecutive Sun Belt Tournament championship under the guidance of Gerry Glasco, defending the 2019 title claimed in San Marcos, Texas. It is the program's 16th overall in the 21-year history of the event.
The Ragin' Cajuns also secured the Sun Belt's automatic bid into the upcoming NCAA Tournament which begins with the regional round Friday-Sunday, May 21-23.
- In addition to Most Outstanding Player Summer Ellyson, the Ragin' Cajuns were also represented on the Sun Belt's All-Tournament team by Alissa Dalton, Bailey Curry and Sophie Piskos.
- Saturday's offensive production increased Louisiana's total in the 2021 Sun Belt Tournament to 36 runs, surpassing the previous record of 35 runs the program posted in 2011.
- Louisiana's lineup generated six extra base hits with Jade Gortarez providing two doubles and Alissa Dalton, Sophie Piskos, Bailey Curry and Melissa Mayeux each homering once.
- The four home runs increased the Ragin' Cajuns season total to 62, breaking a tie with the 2019 team (that hit 58) for the most produced in the Gerry Glasco era.
- Every single starter in the Louisiana lineup contributed at least one run to the final game tally of 15, the most by the program in the SBC Tournament since scoring 19 in the 2004 championship game vs. Middle Tennessee.
- Over four games in the 2021 Sun Belt Tournament, the Ragin' Cajuns batted .414 with 36 runs produced off of 46 base hits.
- Louisiana recorded at least nine base hits in all four SBC Tournament games, reaching double figures in each of the final three games capped off by a week-long best of 15 off of South Alabama pitching in the championship game.
- Nine different individuals posted multiple hits and eight different individuals tallied multiple-RBI during Louisiana's run to the Sun Belt Tournament title.
- The two-run single in the first inning increased Kendall Talley's RBI total in the 2021 Sun Belt Tournament to a team-leading six RBI.
- Alissa Dalton delivered a 3-for-3 performance at the plate to raise her four-game totals at the Sun Belt Tournament to 7-for-11 (.636). The home run was Dalton's first since returning from a hand injury that forced her to miss 16 games from April 5-May 2, and first since March 19 at UT Arlington.
- Summer Ellyson captured career win No. 97 inching her closer to the possibility of reaching 100 career wins. Only two other Ragin' Cajuns pitchers have reached the century mark (Brooke Mitchell, Kyla Hall).
- Louisiana's all-time record in the Sun Belt Conference tournament moved to 65-9 (.878).
- Louisiana and South Alabama met in the Sun Belt Tournament Championship Game for the fourth time overall and first time since the 2015 event in San Marcos, Texas.
- The Ragin' Cajuns extended their winning streak over South Alabama to 17 games – the longest streak in the all-time series.
No. 14 Louisiana awaits the assignment for its 22nd consecutive appearance and 30th overall in the NCAA Tournament, which begins with the regional round Friday-Sunday, May 21-23 at a campus site to be determined.
The field of 64 teams will be announced on Sunday (May 16) at 8 p.m. (CDT) on ESPN2.
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