SOFTBALL: Cajuns offense explodes again in sweep of Georgia State

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LAFAYETTE – DJ Sanders added three more home runs to her nation-leading total and Lexie Comeaux posted seven RBI during 17th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball’s 19-4 (5 inn.), 7-1 doubleheader sweep of Georgia State on Saturday at Lamson Park.

Sanders launched two home runs in Game 1, her seventh game of multiple home runs this season, and added a two-run homer in Game 2 that gave Louisiana (35-6, 16-1 Sun Belt) a four-run cushion in the third inning. She increased her nation-leading home run total to 27 which is the third-most hit in a single season in program history.

Comeaux finished 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBI in the opener, the four hits her career-high figure and the most by a Ragin’ Cajun in 2017. She collected four more RBI in the nightcap off a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a three-run double in the fifth inning that stretched the lead to 7-1.

Louisiana and Georgia State (28-19, 13-7 Sun Belt) conclude the weekend series on Sunday with a 1 p.m. single game at Lamson Park. The game can be heard in the Lafayette area on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM and worldwide on the RadioPup app. A live video stream and live statistics is available at RaginCajuns.com.

With the sweep the Ragin’ Cajuns secured the series victory from the Panthers to extend the school and Sun Belt record of consecutive conference series won to 35 straight dating back to March 2013.

Louisiana sent 17 batters to the plate in the first inning and produced 13 runs to pull away from GSU in Game 1.

The scoring began with Sanders’ first home run of the day, a two-run shot, followed by a solo homer from Haley Hayden. Two-run singles from Kassidy Zeringue, Sanders, Comeaux and Corin Voinche accounted for the bulk of the remaining production.

The 19 runs scored by were the most in a regular season Sun Belt Conference game held at Lamson Park (previous mark was 18 vs. New Mexico State in April 2003).

Alex Stewart started the contest, but was relieved after an extended rest in the bottom of the first inning. Macey Smith took over in the second inning and collected the win in three innings of work.

After a 42-minute weather delay in the first inning of the second game, the Ragin’ Cajuns wasted little time capturing the momentum. After Kara Gremillion and Sanders walked, Hayden drove a single off the top of the center field wall to score Gremillion. Comeaux’s sacrifice fly came later and gave Louisiana a 2-0 lead after one complete.

Panthers pitcher Kinsley Jennings held the Ragin’ Cajuns off the board for the first time on the day by pitching a scoreless second inning. However, the Cajuns had an answer in their next at bat when Gremillion led off with a single and Sanders skied a ball over the wall in left center to double the advantage to 4-0.

Ivie Drake got GSU on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with a two-out solo home run. That’s a close as Stewart, making her second start of the day, would let the visitors get as she proceeded to begin a string of 10 straight batters retired to finish the contest.

Louisiana got traffic in the bottom of the fifth after Martinez started with a bunt single, moved to second on a throwing error after a Gremillion grounder, then Sanders walked to load the bases. Jennings retired Hayden and Craighton only to have Comeaux lift a ball into right center that skipped by a diving outfielder and rolled to the wall clearing the bases for a 7-1 lead.

Stewart held Georgia State to two hits over seven innings and faced only three batters over the minimum. After Comeaux’s three-run double, she sat down the Panthers in order in the sixth and seventh to wrap up her 16th win of the season (16-3 record) and 30th career Sun Belt win (30-1 career SBC record).

DIAMOND NOTES
– The 13-run first inning in Game 1 marked the most runs in a single inning since scoring 15 in the third inning of the 2016 season opener vs. Ball State in Gulf Shores.
– Haley Hayden’s solo homer in the first inning of Game 1 was her 10th of the season and sixth since April 1. She reached double digits for the third time in her career (15 as a freshman in 2014; 14 as a sophomore in 2015).
– DJ Sanders’ two-run home run in Game 2 increased her season RBI total to 70. She’s the first Cajun since Lexie Elkins (83 in 2015) to reach the 70-mark in RBI.
– DJ Sanders is now within five home runs of Lexie Elkins’ single-season school record 32 hit in 2015. The junior shortstop is three away from joining Elkins and Danyele Gomez (30 in 2006) as the only players in school history to reach 30 home runs.
– Haley Hayden scored two runs on the day, upping her career total to 236. She’s now within seven runs of Nerissa Myers’ school career record 243 scored from 2010-13.
– Since April 1, Haley Hayden is hitting .513 (20-of-39) with three doubles, six home runs and 24 RBI, while DJ Sanders has clubbed 11 home runs and collected 33 RBI during the month.
– Lexie Comeaux’s seven RBI for the doubleheader were the most she’s collected in one day since producing eight RBI on the final day of the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational back on March 5. She picked up her sixth and seventh multiple-RBI games of the season – all games with at least three RBI.
– Including the 11-9 midweek win at No. 4 Texas A&M, the Ragin’ Cajuns offense has generated 37 runs over three games played this week.
– Louisiana remained undefeated (31-0) when scoring 6-plus runs. The Cajuns have produced 6 or more runs in 14 of 17 Sun Belt games this season.
– The Ragin’ Cajuns have now scored in the first inning 19 times and hold a 64-9 edge in runs scored in the frame.
– The Ragin’ Cajuns upped their series win streak over the Panthers to 17 games and increased the all-time series lead to 21-2.

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