Photo Gallery: UL softball advances to Super Regional

by Leslie Turk

Cajuns host Arizona Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in best of three. If necessary game starts 45 minutes after game two. (Photo by Buddy Delahoussaye)

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With their third-straight Regional Championship, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns advance to the Super Regional round at Lamson Park, taking on Arizona at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday, with a third if-necessary game, starting 45 minutes after the conclusion of game two.

Friday's contest will mark the 23rd meeting between the two schools, with Arizona holding a 19-3 advantage all-time. This will be the first Super Regional meeting between the two schools.

All three games will be televised on ESPNU, and as always, can be heard on ESPN 1420AM and with Steve Peloquin and Bobby Neveaux.

On Sunday Gabby Felps broke a scoreless tie in the second inning with a pinch-hit two-run single to open the scoring for the Cajuns, as they went on to defeat the Texas Longhorns 10-1 in the 2014 NCAA Softball Lafayette Regional Championship game at Lamson Park.

The win gives the Cajuns (47-8-1) their third-straight trip to the NCAA Super Regionals and nine consecutive victories in NCAA Regional Tournament play dating back to 2011. Arizona defeated LSU in the Tucson Regional Championship to advance.

"I love this team and the way they fight," head coach Michael Lotief said after Sunday's game. "They have each other's backs. We came together as a group and started talking about how we don't have to be perfect today, we just have to get out there and fight."

The Cajuns took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning, when Felps came on to pinch hit for Natalie Fernandez with the bases loaded and two outs. Felps swung at the first pitch she saw from Texas starter Tiarra Davis (19-14) and hit a hard smash off the glove of second baseman Stephanie Ceo, allowing Shelbi Redfearn and pinch-runner Cassidy Zeringue.

The single by Felps would be enough for starting pitcher Christina Hamilton (27-2) to take it the rest of the way.  Hamilton tossed the complete game, allowing one run on four hits and five walks, while striking out five.

It was the combination of Shellie Landry and Redfearn striking in the third inning to add to the lead.  Landry lead off the inning with a single, which ended the day for Davis with the Longhorns bringing in Gabby Smith.  Redfearn welcomed Smith, sending the first pitch into the left-field bleachers, giving the Cajuns a 4-0 lead.

Smith rebounded in the bottom of the fourth, helping her own cause with a solo home run to center field for the Longhorns' first hit of the day off Hamilton, to make it 4-1.

Lexie Elkins added to the Cajuns' lead in the top of the fifth inning with her first hit of the regionals, sending a solo-home run to left field to lead off the inning and giving the Cajuns a 5-1 lead.

The floodgates opened in the top of the seventh inning when the Cajuns put up five runs on five hits, including the second home run of the day from Elkins, an RBI double by Redfearn and a three-run homer by Kelsey Vincent to give the Cajuns a nine-run advantage.

Hamilton finished the game up with her first 1-2-3 inning of the game, getting Big 12 Player of the Year Taylor Thom to pop up to Corin Voinché for the final out.

Redfearn finished the game 3-for-3 with three runs scored for the Cajuns and three RBI, finishing the regional with five hits and a team-high seven RBI.

"We have a fanbase who comes out, game after game after game believing, providing energy and motivation," Lotief added. "It's Cinderella-like,' with the way that these kids believe and fight and the way this fanbase believes in them. You just have to stop and enjoy it. I don't even want to think about next weekend right now. We want these kids to soak this in, to realize what they have accomplished."

Ticket information will be released Monday.