The 11th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round for the fourth straight season and sixth time in the past eight seasons after claiming a 9-1 (6 inning) win over Baylor Sunday evening in the winner take-all NCAA Lafayette Regional championship game.
No. 13 national seed Louisiana (42-10) advanced to the NCAA Auburn Super Regional set for Friday-Saturday, May 22-23 at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala., against No. 4 national seed Auburn (52-9). The super regional begins Friday at 1 p.m. (CDT).
Baylor (41-17) avoided elimination in the first game of the Lafayette Regional championship round by posting a 6-2 victory.
The Cajuns scored the first five runs of the nightcap to secure the regional title. Samantha Walsh put the finishing touches with a walk-off, three-run home run in the sixth inning.
Jordan Wallace (18-5) earned her third win of the season, and second in the Lafayette Regional, against the 18th-ranked Bears by holding the visitors to five hits over six innings. She struck out five and began the game with four straight scoreless innings as the Cajuns built their lead.
Walsh, 2-for-4 at the plate, collected her game-high three RBI on the walk-off homer. Lexie Elkins posted two RBI, the final one coming on her school-record breaking 31st home run of the season in the third inning.
Louisiana claimed its 10th NCAA Regional title and improved its record in the round to 56-32. The Cajuns have won the last three regionals held at Lamson Park (2012, 2014, 2015).
Baylor’s Heather Stearns, who held the Cajuns to two runs and five hits in the game one victory, began to struggle with her command in the second inning and Louisiana would eventually break a scoreless tie.
Walks issued to Kelsey Vincent and DJ Sanders played a factor in the bases being loaded with no outs. A sacrifice fly by Aleah Craighton gave UL a 1-0 lead. A second run scored on a Kelli Martinez ground out to third base as Leandra Maly (bunt single) broke from third base on the putout of Martinez.
Shellie Landry and Elkins combined for a 7-2 double play for the final outs of the top of the third inning to keep the Bears off the scoreboard and preserve the 2-0 lead after runners moved to second and third base on a Lindsey Cargill sacrifice bunt.
The Cajuns’ second double play of the game, initiated by Wallace, came with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and a run already in for Baylor that cut the lead to 5-1. Wallace fielded a grounder off the bat of Bears cleanup hitter Shelby Friudenberg tossed to Elkins at home who relayed to Vincent to complete the 1-2-3 double play.
The Bears turned a double play of the their own on a line drive by Craigthton in the bottom of the fifth inning to help reliever Kendall Potts post a scoreless frame and hold their deficit at 5-1.
Wallace retired Baylor in order in the top of the sixth inning, turning it back over to the hitters who jumpstarted by a pinch-hit home run by Sara Corbello and capped off by Walsh’s three-run walk-off erupted for four runs to enforce the run rule.
DIAMOND NOTES: Lexie Elkins unseated Danyele Gomez as the program’s single-season home run record holder...Gomez, who hit 30 in 2006, held the record from 2007-14…Elkins’ RBI total in the championship clincher increased her season total to 81 making her the first Cajun with 80-plus RBI since Christi Orgeron tallied 94 in 2012…Louisiana improved to 8-8 vs. ranked teams…Senior pitcher Jordan Wallace is now 5-4 vs. ranked foes this season with three wins over #14/18 Baylor and one apiece against then-No. 4 Alabama and then-No. 24 South Alabama…The three home runs hit in the Lafayette Regional finale marked the Cajuns’ 29th multiple-home run game…Seniors Linzey Cifreo, Christina Hamilton, Marie Hoag, Leandra Maly, Taylor Meaux and Jordan Wallace took in the final games of their collegiate career at Lamson Park…The Cajuns picked up the program’s 1,497th win, leaving the storied program three wins shy of 1,500 moving forward in the NCAA Tournament (all-time mark is 1,497-441-1)…Baylor’s win in the first game snapped the Cajuns’ 11-game win streak in the NCAA Regional round which dated back to 2012…The Cajuns are now 14-7 all-time vs. Baylor with a 9-3 mark at Lamson Park…Baylor’s win that forced the elimination game allowed the Bears keep a lead in NCAA postseason meetings between the two programs at 3-2.