LAFAYETTE — Nerissa Myers went to the batter’s box in the second inning Saturday with the intention of defending the inside of the plate.
Myers accomplished more than that, as she crushed a two-out pitch into the right field bleachers for the first of two University of Louisiana at Lafayette grand slams that led to a 9-3 victory over Stanford in the Lafayette Regional of the NCAA softball tournament.
ULL (51-4), undefeated after two tournament games, punched a ticket for Sunday’s championship game against Stanford at Lamson Park beginning at 1 p.m. The Cajuns need to win only once Sunday in order to advance to a super regional. A second game, if necessary, is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Stanford (40-18) eliminated Baylor 6-2 in Saturday’s late game to advance to the final. Baylor defeated Mississippi Valley State 5-0 in an another elimination game.
Myers’ home run, which landed just beyond the outstretched reach of Stanford right fielder Corey Hanewich, preceded a fourth-inning grand slam by first baseman Matte Haack that gave the Cajuns an 8-0 lead.
The homers and the other 11 Cajuns’ hits complemented the complete game pitching performance by freshman Jordan Wallace.
Wallace (26-1) allowed Stanford (39-18) three hits, including a three-run homer by second baseman Jenna Rich in the fifth.
Myers, a shortstop, said she wasn’t seeking the long ball went she batted against Teagan Gerhart.
“At that point (with the bases loaded), we needed a hit to get more runs for Jordan,” Myers said. “I did what we had worked on all week, which was not to get beat in.
“Just before I went to bat, I remember coach (Mike Loteif) saying for me not to get beat (inside). I hit the pitch, and it just happened to go out of the park.”
Stanford softball coach John Rittman said the pair of grand slams was too much to overcome.
“I tip my hat to Louisiana-Lafayette,” Rittman said. “They had the big hits in timely situations. It’s hard to come back in that situation. But I have to give credit to our team. They made it interesting after getting behind like that.”
Rittman said he wasn’t surprised by Wallace’s poise.
“She’s really not a freshman anymore, although this is a bigger stage than any she has seen all season,” Rittman said. “I thought (Wallace) did a good job of keeping us off balance and getting outs when she needed them.”
ULL third baseman Natalie Fernandez, who hits ninth, leadoff hitter Katie Smith and Myers accounted for seven of the Cajuns’ hits.
Rittman thought that was significant in determining the outcome.
“Their table-setters were on base all day, and that really helped out the big hitters,” he said.
Haack, a first baseman who transferred after last year from the University of Arizona, hit her two-out homer in nearly the same spot as the two-run blast in Friday night’s 8-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State.
Fernandez, who played softball at Live Oak in Livingston Parish, scored the final ULL run in the fifth after stealing second and touching home after Stanford left fielder Leah White misjudged a fly ball.
ULL had centerfielder Erikka Murphy, Fernandez and Smith on base for Myers’ home run.
Fernandez, Smith and Myers loaded the bases when Haack delivered her homer.
STANFORD 6, BAYLOR 2: A grand slam by freshman Cassandra Roulund in a six-run fifth inning lifted Stanford over Baylor (34-22).
The Cardinal reached the 40-win mark for the 13th time in program history.
An infield single and a throwing error with two outs was followed by Ashley Hansen’s RBI double and then Roulund later followed with her grand slam.
Baylor got both of its run in the fifth as well, on Sydny Wilson’s RBI double and Kathy Shelton’s RBI single.
BAYLOR 5, MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE 0: Baylor eliminated Mississippi Valley State, which did not score a run in two tournament games.
The Delta Devilettes (34-19) were held to a pair of hits.
Baylor leadoff hitter Kathy Shelton didn’t have a hit, going 0-for-3, but she scored twice and drove in a run. Meanwhile, Kayce Walker, Megan Turk, Jordan Strickland and Clare Hosack all had two hits apiece.
Cajuns RF Christi Orgeron, who entered the game with 21 homers, went 0-for-4 Saturday. She hasn’t hit in eight tournament at-bats and has flied out six straight times. ... The run Myers scored on her grand slam was her 78th of the season, setting a school and Sun Belt Conference record. ... ULL-Stanford drew 2,476 for Saturday’s game. That attendance followed the Lamson Park crowd record of 2,826 for Friday’s contest against MVSU.