At 24-0 in the conference and 46-4 overall, the Ragin’ Cajuns softball team continued their undefeated season in the Sun Belt Conference with a nail-biting 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on Senior Day, sweeping the series 5-2, 8-0 and 3-2 from Friday to Sunday.
“We made a hype video for our team, where the kids got to watch a video of all the seniors,” Head Coach Gerry Glasco said. “There was a lot of emotion.”
Louisiana captured its eighth consecutive SBC series sweep with a bit of drama.
In Sunday’s contest, senior pitcher Allison Deville was honored with her first start of the year, playing well early to force two straight flyouts to open the game. However, Coastal Carolina’s Kassidy Smith smacked a home run into left field with two outs to give the Chanticleers an early 1-0 lead.
“Allison Deville is a very special individual,” Glasco said. “What she brings is her work habit, the love she has for the team … and (she is) one of the hardest working, most enthusiastic practice players that I’ve seen in 11 years of coaching.”
After a scoreless at-bat for the Ragin’ Cajuns, Coastal doubled its lead in the second when Deville and the rest of Louisiana’s defense were unable to cleanly handle a sacrifice bunt from Coastal’s Chelsea D’Avilar and Adrienne Visintine scored. Deville was then replaced by Summer Ellyson, and Ellyson stopped the bleeding to keep the deficit at two.
“I wanted my ball club to know that I greatly respect Allison, her tenacity and her commitment to our program. The way to do that was to put her out there on Senior Day, and let her have her moment …I thought Allison really pitched well enough to get out of there with one run, but unfortunately we made some bobbles and miscues around her, and had to (bring in Summer) down 0-2,” Glasco said.
The Ragin’ Cajuns immediately answered, tying the game with two runs in the bottom of the second. A Raina O’Neal double down the left field line allowed Dalton to score, then Kourtney Gremillion brought in O’Neal for a game-tying run with a single. Glasco said he liked the way the team responded to adversity.
“I thought it was a good spot for our team to be in, and we came right back,” Glasco said. “Kourtney Gremillion hits a two-out RBI to make it 2-2. I thought that was really good for our team.”
The game remained knotted at two until the bottom of the sixth, when Louisiana’s bats began to heat up. After a Julie Rawls flyout, Lexie Comeaux singled down the left field line to get the Ragin’ Cajuns going. After multiple singles later in the inning, Dalton scored on an error to give Louisiana a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Ellyson retired three Chanticleers in order to hold the lead and seal the Senior Day victory.
Glasco said he was relieved the team won even though he made some risky lineup changes to honor the seniors on Senior Day. He moved the team’s seniors to the top of the batting order, and he said he was having flashbacks to his late daughter Geri Ann Glasco, who reassured him that he had done the right thing.
“It was an emotional game on Senior Day,” Glasco said. “I was having flashbacks that whole game to Geri Ann, and I was actually feeling her talk to me, saying, ‘This is the right thing to do, dad’ (and) ‘Daddy, it’s OK, we’re going to win.’ The whole game I was hearing her voice, reassuring me that doing the right thing was the right thing.”
In game two of the series, the Ragin’ Cajuns were able to shut out the Chanticleers and win the game in five innings, 8-0.
Kourtney Gremillion made the contests’ first impact play in the top of the first, pushing an early Louisiana lead to 3-0 with a two-run single into right field. Later in the first, Gremillion scored on a Comeaux double.
The following inning, Alissa Dalton cracked a two-run single to right field, spearheading a four-run explosion that gave Louisiana its final tally of eight. Rawls, O’Neal, Hudek and Dalton all found the home plate in the inning, with Dalton scoring by stealing home.
In the series opener, Louisiana scored all five of its runs in their first three at-bats. Highlighting the scoring was a two-run single from Sarah Hudek in the first inning, an RBI double from Bailey Curry in the second inning and a two-run double from Lexie Comeaux in the third inning.
Ellyson pitched in all three games, starting games one and two in the circle. She did not give up any runs, and she combined to strike out 24 batters, including 12 in game one. In addition, Ellyson is now third in the nation in strikeouts with 263, and she leads the country in wins with 30.
“I see tremendous improvement in (Summer’s) command of games now,” Glasco said. “I think she totally understands what we’re talking about when we say, ‘Pitch economically, pitch to contact’... (She pitched) 5 ⅔ innings with five strikeouts and 50 pitches on Senior Day. That’s pretty incredible.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns will now look ahead to a road series against the University of Louisiana at Monroe. A sweep in that series would give Louisiana it’s ninth SBC series sweep and a perfect SBC regular-season record this year. Following the ULM series, Louisiana will prepare for the SBC Tournament in San Marcos, Texas.