SOFTBALL: Seniors lead way for Cajuns in regular season home finale

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LAFAYETTE – The 16th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball squad closed out the home portion of the 2017 schedule on Sunday with an 8-0 (5 inn.) win over Coastal Carolina at Lamson Park.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (39-6, 20-1 Sun Belt), who entered the day with the series win after 9-0 and 13-4 wins in five innings on Saturday, completed the series sweep of the Chanticleers (29-22, 7-16) in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

Senior Alex Stewart (20-3, 1.92 ERA) struck out a season-high 10 batters in her final regular season game at Lamson Park. She faced only one batter over the minimum and used 66 pitches to record the five-inning shutout, her second shutout of the weekend.

Fellow senior Corin Voinchè paced the offense with a career-high four RBI as part of a 2-for-3 performance in her final regular season home contest. Voinchè broke the game open in the first inning with a bases-clearing double that increased the Ragin’ Cajuns lead to 4-0.

Senior right fielder Haley Hayden took hold of sole possession of the program’s career runs scored record when she crossed home plate on Voinchè’s double. Hayden recorded her 244th career run, which surpassed the 243 scored by Nerissa Myers from 2010-13.

Louisiana, champions of the Sun Belt Conference for the fourth straight season and 15th time in 17 season of league play, close out the regular season Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7 on the road at ULM. The Ragin’ Cajuns and Warhawks are scheduled to play a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday and Noon single game on Sunday.

Stewart was in command all afternoon in landing her second straight season of 20 wins (went 29-6 as a junior in 2016). She struck out seven of the first nine batters she faced and the lone hit allowed was a leadoff single by Taty Forbes in the fourth inning.

Stewart, who combined with Victoria Brown for a shutout in the series opener, limited the Chanticleers to one earned run, six hits and struck out 18 over 12 innings pitched in the series.

Coastal starting pitcher Taylor Rahach ran into trouble early as a pair of walks (Kara Gremillion, Hayden) and hit by pitch (Aleah Craighton) loaded the bases in Louisiana’s first at bat.

Lexie Comeaux drew a seven-pitch walk to start the scoring. Rahach induced an infield popup from Chavez for the second out, but was unable to retire Voinchè who doubled into left center to clear the bases and provide plenty of breathing room for Stewart.

An RBI single by Kelli Martinez pushed the lead to 5-0 and that’s where the score remained until the fourth inning when the Cajuns capitalized on a Rahach error to push across two unearned runs for a 7-0 advantage.

Chanticleers reliever Ashley Guillette issued three walks in the fifth inning opening the door for a two-out single from Comeaux which scored senior Sarah Arceneaux with the final run and ended the game by the run rule.

With the win, Louisiana finished 30-5 at Lamson Park in the 2017 season. It’s the seventh time reaching 30 wins in the friendly confines (1994, 1995, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017).

DIAMOND NOTES
– Louisiana’s five runs in the first inning marked the 23rd time scoring in the initial frame over 45 games played. Dating back to the Georgia State series (April 22-23), the Ragin’ Cajuns have produced 36 runs in the first inning – a span of six games.
– Alex Stewart, the reigning Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year, moved her season Sun Belt record to 13-0 and her career SBC mark to 34-1.
– Alex Stewart has yielded just 13 earned runs and 38 hits over 60-2/3 innings pitched in Sun Belt play this season (13-0, 1.50 ERA in SBC play). In five of the seven league series, she’s held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer.
– Alex Stewart’s season-high 10 strikeouts were one off of her career-high 11 recorded three times (2015 at Texas State; 2016 at Troy, vs. Texas State).
– Corin Voinchè eclipsed her previous career-high RBI tally of three reached twice earlier this season (Apr. 8 vs. Troy; Apr. 22 vs. Georgia State).
– Since taking over starting duties at first base and the No. 7 spot in the lineup, Corin Voinchè is batting .367 with three doubles, a homer and 13 RBI and has struck out only five time over 59 plate appearances.
– Ragin’ Cajuns batters drew seven more walks on Sunday, finishing with 26 walks in the series with Coastal Carolina. Louisiana has drawn 248 walks which is ahead of Auburn’s 239 for the national lead.
– The Ragin’ Cajuns were one of the nation’s most productive offenses in April. The squad finished the month scoring 171 runs off 162 hits in 17 games. The team’s batting average was .375 and they collected 52 extra base hits (20 doubles, 3 triples, 29 home runs) for a .637 slugging percentage.
– Lexie Comeaux added two more RBI to her weekend series total, giving her a series-high nine RBI. Comeaux has posted 16 RBI the past two Sun Belt series (7 vs. Georgia State).
– Kassidy Zeringue led the Cajuns in hits over the weekend, going 5-for-7 at the plate. The performance raised her season average to .404.
– Kara Gremillion walked twice in the contest to extend her team season-high reached base streak to 37 games. DJ Sanders (28) and Haley Hayden (23) are the other Cajuns with active reached base streaks of 20-plus games.
– Alex Stewart’s shutout marked the pitching staff’s 12th of the season. The unit has held foes to two runs or fewer 27 times through 45 games and has yielded five-plus only twice.

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