After watching ace Jordan Wallace throw 250 pitches in less than 24 hours in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, it would be easy for Louisiana-Lafayette softball coach Michael Lotief to think hard about his options for the championship game.
Or maybe not. It seems Lotief knows who’ll get the ball when ULL faces LSU in the final at 1 p.m. Sunday at Tiger Park. A second game will be played at 4 p.m. if the Ragin’ Cajuns don’t win the first.
“She’s mentally tough, but at some point she’s going to hit the wall,” Lotief said of Wallace, who has allowed just three hits in shutting out Northwestern State and LSU this weekend. “But until that happens, we’re going to keep going to her.”
Lotief need not ask Wallace, who improved to 30-7 while limiting LSU to two hits in a 3-0 victory in the winners bracket game Saturday, if she has enough left in the tank to pitch ULL into the super regionals.
“I’m ready,” she said after throwing 106 pitches against LSU. “It’s what we prepare for all season.”
LSU coach Beth Torina could hardly blame senior pitcher Rachele Fico after she allowed two hits in the loss to ULL.
Both hits were home runs: a two-run blast by Brianna Cherry in the first inning and a solo shot by Sara Corbello in the seventh.
“She missed two pitches — one my fault and one her fault,” Torina said. “They might be both my fault. Ultimately, I thought she did a good job. It was a gutsy performance. I think it is unrealistic for us to think we can shut them out. We just have to make sure our offense can support her.”
Lotief, who has been ULL’s co-head coach or coach for 11 seasons, was asked after beating LSU about getting away with playing just one game Sunday.
“I’m not thinking about it being a ‘one-game’ Sunday,” a smiling Lotief said. “I’ve been in situations where we are now, and I’ve been in situations where we came out of the losers bracket. The situation doesn’t matter because it’s going to be a fight to the end.
“The only thing we can do is enjoy tonight because it’s a big deal. When you win in the postseason, it’s a big deal.”
Central Connecticut, which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance, got its first win with a 9-1 victory Saturday against Northwestern State in a losers bracket game to stay alive and face LSU.
Northwestern State, on the other hand, is still looking for its first win after going 0-for-2 for the fourth straight time.
After committing 59 errors in 48 games coming into the tournament, Central Connecticut had six in its first 14 innings of the regional.
The Blue Devils had two in the first inning Friday against LSU, two in Saturday’s afternoon win over Northwestern State and two against the Tigers in the first inning Saturday night and four in all.