LAFAYETTE – No. 18-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball captured two wins on Friday as the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational got underway at Lamson Park.
Macey Smith pitched four shutout innings and DJ Sanders and Daniella Chavez combined to go 5-for-5 with three home runs and four RBI in an 8-0 win over Alcorn in five innings.
Haley Hayden posted three RBI and Louisiana received home runs from Kara Gremillion and Lexie Comeaux in producing an 8-2 win over North Dakota State in the nightcap. Freshman pitcher Alyssa Denham picked up her fifth win of the season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (13-4), who have now won nine of their last 10 games, continue play in the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational on Saturday facing North Dakota State at 2 p.m. and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 4:30 p.m.
Friday’s contests marked the start of the final weekend of in-season tournament play or Louisiana. It also began the final non-conference weekend of the season (Sun Belt play begins March 11-12 at App State).
The two wins moved head coach Michael Lotief within three wins of his 700th career win. Lotief’s career record now stands at 697-172-1 (.802). The Ragin’ Cajuns have four games remaining in this weekend’s Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational.
Louisiana vs. Alcorn
Beginning with Gremillion scoring on a wild pitch and Sanders launching a solo home run in the first inning, the Ragin’ Cajuns plated a run each inning in building the 8-0 run-rule win over Alcorn (3-10).
That was enough offense for Smith who scattered four hits over four innings and was threatened only once (bases loaded in Top 4th). With the win the senior from Houston (Stratford HS) improved to 3-1.
The Ragin’ Cajuns began to gain separation from the Braves in the third inning. Aleah Craighton led off with a single and Sanders walked. Before the visitors could record an out, runs crossed on a Chavez RBI single and Comeaux bases-loaded walk to increase the lead to 5-0. A sacrifice fly from Kelli Martinez pushed across the third run of the frame.
A one-out walk and a pair of two-out singles gave Alcorn traffic in the fourth. Smith calmly induced a pop up to Beth Ashley in right field to preserve the shutout.
Solo home runs from Sanders and Chavez in the bottom of the fourth completed the scoring, then Alison Deville worked a scoreless fifth inning to close out the triumph.
Sanders and Chavez both posted their team-leading sixth multiple-RBI game of the season. Sanders hit multiple home runs for the second straight game (two vs. MVSU on Sunday) and Chavez recorded her first three-hit game in a Cajuns uniform.
Louisiana vs. North Dakota State
Gremillion’s leadoff solo home run to start the game quickly swung the momentum to the Ragin’ Cajuns side against NDSU. Bison starting pitcher Jacquelyn Sertic recovered to keep Louisiana off the scoreboard until the third inning.
Four straight Cajuns reached base to start the top of the third inning and Sertic was no longer able to hold the hosts in check. Martinez led off with an infield single and Gremillion walked. That was followed by a bases-clearing double from Hayden and RBI single by Craighton which upped the lead to 4-0.
Before Sertic could bring the Cajuns uprising to a halt, a two-out RBI single up the middle by Ashley made it 5-0.
NDSU scratched an unearned run off of Denham in the fourth inning. Louisiana responded with single runs in the fifth and sixth inning on a solo home run from Comeaux and sacrifice fly by Hayden, respectively, to keep the Bison at bay.
Denham (5-1, 1.24 ERA) limited the Bison to two runs (one earned) in seven innings. The freshman from Pearland (Texas) High struck out a season-high five and did not issue a walk.
Comeaux finished 2-for-4 at the plate with both hits going for extra bases (double, home run). The sophomore catcher ended the day 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and two RBI.
Hayden picked up her fifth multiple-RBI game of the season. She increased her season total to 17 which ranks third on the team trailing only Sanders (19) and Chavez (18).
Louisiana posted multiple home runs for the third straight game and seventh time in the past 10 outings. The Ragin’ Cajuns have now belted 21 home runs through 17 games.