LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball freshman pitcher Alyssa Denham’s key role in the series win over then-No. 4 Alabama last weekend at Lamson Park has resulted in national notoriety as she was named the Week 2 USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week on Tuesday.
The Ragin’ Cajuns pitcher landed the first USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week award of her young career. She joins former players Danyele Gomez (Week 14 of 2005), Christi Orgeron (Week 2 of 2012) and Lexie Elkins (Week 11 of 2015, Week 1 of 2016) as recipients of the award.
It’s the second honor this week for the Pearland (Texas) High product, adding to the pitcher of the week honors bestowed by the Sun Belt Conference.
In her first career start in the pitching circle against a Top 25 ranked opponent, Denham showed composure as she helped lead the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 7-0 win on Sunday which secured the series win over the Top 5-ranked Crimson Tide.
“It was amazing,” Denham said reflecting on Sunday’s game. “So many people were cheering for ‘Us’. It felt great to have so much support behind us.
“I made adjustments to the strike zone a lot sooner than I did on Saturday,” Denham noted. “Nerves could have come into effect on Saturday, but there isn’t an excuse I should have adjusted a lot sooner.”
Recording a first-pitch strike off 24 of the 28 batters she faced, Denham limited Alabama to just two hits throughout the entire contest in hurling a complete game shutout – the first time this season, and only the second time in a non-conference regular season game since 2015, that the Crimson Tide was held scoreless.
She held the Alabama hitless over the final five innings of play, while keeping base runners from advancing past second base the entire game.
“When we decided to start her (on Sunday) we wanted to see if she could go three to four innings, but when we got the lead the crowd energized her and she captured the momentum,” Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball head coach Michael Lotief said. “Once she started to tire, she lost a little of her velocity, but her pitches started getting some movement, some wicked movement.”
Over the weekend series with Alabama, Denham tossed 12 innings holding the Crimson Tide to just five hits and one earned run to finish the three-game series with a 0.58 ERA.
“Individual awards are hard to put in context without looking at the entire team,” Lotief stressed. “I think Alyssa’s success as a true freshman is not only a testament to her hard work, but to the structure, the system and her sisters around her. They have nurtured her, encouraged her and helped her to get better.”
No. 16 Louisiana (6-3) remains at Lamson Park this week for the Mardi Gras Invitational presented by DoubleTree scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 23-26. The Ragin’ Cajuns begin play in the event, which continues a season-opening 23-game homestand, on Thursday with games against Drake at 4:30 p.m. and Bowling Green at 6:45 p.m.
There are still season tickets available for purchase. Season ticket packages, starting at $121, remain on sale and can be purchased in person at the Cajundome Box Office, on RaginCajuns.com using Account Manager or by phone at (337) 265-2357.
For more information on Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball, as well as all of Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball),Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSoftball).