Big first inning powers Cajuns to softball series win over Troy

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LAFAYETTE – Freshman Kelli Martinez sparked a seven-run first inning with a two-run triple and the No. 7-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns pounded out 10 hits off three Troy pitchers in a 12-2 five-inning victory in the Sun Belt Conference series finale for both teams on Sunday at Lamson Park.

DJ Sanders and Haley Hayden each went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Christina Hamilton tossed a three-hitter as Louisiana (25-4, 10-2 SBC) added two runs in the third inning and three in the fourth to claim its 17th straight Sun Belt Conference series dating back to 2013.

Louisiana quickly loaded the bases in the first inning off Troy starter Sara Mock (3-8) as Hayden and Shellie Landry each drew walks before Lexie Elkins hit a single to left field. After Samantha Walsh drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 1-0 lead, Leandra Maly lifted a one-out RBI single to center and Aleah Craighton followed with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Elkins.

Sanders then singled through the right side to drive in Walsh and Martinez followed with her first career triple, scoring Maly and Sanders for a 6-0 lead.

That was enough for Hamilton (8-1), who fanned two and scattered three hits in capture her 19th consecutive Sun Belt Conference victory. The senior allowed a leadoff single to Troy’s Kate Benton before giving up solo home runs to Ashley Rainey in the fourth and Amanda Winters in the fifth.

The Ragin’ Cajuns upped their lead to 9-0 in the third inning after Sanders and Martinez reached on singles to lead off the inning before Landry hit a one-out RBI single to drive in Martinez and Elkins hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Hayden.

Louisiana added three unearned runs in the fourth to take a 12-1 lead after capitalizing on a pair of Trojan errors. Maly reached on a throwing error by Jaycee Affeldt, that scored pinch-runner Cassidy White from first and moved Maly to third. Sanders reached two batters later on an error by Becca Hartley that drove in Maly before Hayden doubled to right-center to drive in Sanders.

Walsh drove in two runs for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who have outscored their opponents, 203-24, at Lamson Park this season. Hayden extended her streak of consecutive games to reach base to a career-high 18 games.

Louisiana will return to action on Saturday, March 28 when it visits Sun Belt Conference foe Texas State in a three-game series in San Marcos, Texas.

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Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan

Sports Information Director, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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