The Ragin’ Cajuns softball team is a whopping 29 games over .500 in early April after a sweep of The University of Texas at Arlington over the weekend.
Despite a feisty, impassioned effort from the Mavericks (18-21), 10th-ranked Louisiana was able to use just enough hits and stellar defense to keep their opponent at bay, winning the three contests: 4-1, 2-0 and 4-2.
Sarah Hudek’s spectacular sixth-inning diving catch Friday night was an embodiment of the entire series. This season, the Ragin’ Cajuns have gotten used to winning with overwhelming offense — especially at home — but they used grit, pitching and defensive execution to win their latest series.
“I’m really pleased with our effort this weekend,” Head Coach Gerry Glasco said. “I thought our defense was really good.”
Keeli Milligan opened the scoring in Friday’s contest with an RBI single in the bottom of the second, bringing home Kara Gremillion for the game’s first run. Later, a homer from Hudek in the fifth inning doubled Louisiana’s lead briefly.
In the top of the sixth, UTA’s Whitney Walton scored on a wild pitch to bring UTA within one. However, two outs later, Hudek’s memorable catch in the sixth-inning protected the Louisiana lead. UTA would not score again, and Louisiana added two additional runs off a Milligan RBI and a sacrifice fly from Hudek in the bottom of the sixth.
Summer Ellyson displayed her usual dominance throughout the contest. Outside of Friday’s sixth-inning scare, she retired 12 of 13 batters faced after a leadoff single in the second inning and recorded 11 strikeouts.
Ellyson collected five more strikeouts and continued her excellent play with a shutout in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader.
Ellyson, who leads the nation with 23 wins, recorded her sixth shutout of the season on Saturday, clinching the series win and spearheading one of the team’s most smothering defensive efforts of the season.
“Summer was really good (Saturday in Game 2),” Glasco said. “She has the ability now to throw four really good (types of) pitches. Her and (coach Mike Roberts) are able to do a better job adjusting to the hitters than the hitters can do adjusting to her.”
RBI’s from Alissa Dalton and Kara Gremillion allowed Raina O’Neal and pinch runner Alaina Guarino to score the game’s only runs and give Louisiana the 2-0 victory. Milligan, Julie Rawls and Bailey Curry also earned hits in Saturday’s first game.
Saturday’s second game was the only game in which Louisiana trailed at any point.
An RBI triple from Hudek in the bottom of the first gave Louisiana an initial 1-0 lead. However, a wild pitch and an RBI single from UTA’s Walton in the top of the second allowed Reagan Wright and Brittany Wyllie to give the Mavericks their only lead of the series at 2-1.
Louisiana would tie the game in the bottom of the second after Kara Gremillion scored on a wild pitch.
The game remained at two until the bottom of the fourth. With Louisiana already sitting on two outs, Lexie Comeaux’s RBI single brought Kara Gremillion home to give Louisiana a 3-2 lead. In the very next at-bat, Kourtney Gremillion’s RBI double to right-center allowed Comeaux to double the Ragin’ Cajun lead to 4-2.
“Our hitters responded well to get the game back evened up,” Glasco said. “We took a 4-2 lead on (UTA’s) number 1 pitcher that they brought in. I was proud of our hitters for that.”
The clutch moments in the bottom of the fourth would prove to be the winning moments for Louisiana, due in large part to an excellent joint pitching performance from Carrie Boswell and Ellyson. Boswell was able to bounce back from the two runs she gave up in the second, holding firm to extend her undefeated record to 7-0 and setting up Summer Ellyson to earn her second save of the season.
Louisiana has now won ten consecutive games since March 22.
“The goal is to be consistent,” Glasco said. “If we do that, with the talent we have on our ball club, I think we can see this winning streak continue to grow.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns have also now won 51 consecutive Sun Belt Conference series dating back to March 2013. They will now look ahead to an upcoming home game April 10 against Southeastern before hitting the road for a weekend series against Appalachian State.