Ragin’ Cajuns take out MVSU, 8-0
LAFAYETTE — It was all about power for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball team in the opening round of an Lafayette Regional tournament Friday night at Lamson Park.
ULL senior pitcher Ashley Brignac dominated the circle, overpowering Mississippi Valley State with a one-hit shutout.
Then in the later innings, the Cajuns’ power-hitting lineup seized control, belting a pair of fifth inning home runs that helped ULL defeat MVSU 8-0 in six innings before a stadium-record crowd 2,628.
The win puts ULL (50-4) in a Saturday winners bracket game against Stanford (40-17) at 1 p.m. MVSU (34-18) plays Baylor (33-21) in a 3 p.m. elimination contest.
A 6 p.m. game Saturday features the winner of 3 p.m. against the 1 p.m. loser.
Brignac (22-3) struck out nine of 19 batters, while retiring the last 13. A first inning single by the Devilette third baseman Alexandra Robertson was the only hit for MVSU, which ended a 17-game winning streak.
The large crowd energized the Cajuns, Brignac said.
“It all felt good out there, seeing the fan support we had. We were really energized. I changed speeds a lot with my pitches and I just mixed it up, in and out and up and down,“ Brignac said.
MVSU starter Alicia Lorenz (19-9) had the Cajuns’ hitters off balance early, but by the fifth inning, ULL made some key adjustments at the plate.
First baseman Matte Haack hit a two-run homer into the left-centerfield bleachers before second baseman Paige Cormier’s three-run blast in the same place gave ULL a 7-0 lead.
The homers boosted the Cajuns’ season home run total to 68.
Haack said the Cajuns’ hitters reviewed their earlier appearances against Lorenz, who struck out three of the first eight.
“We talked about our previous at-bats and I came up there (in the fifth inning) with a clear mind, did what I could do and it all worked out,” Haack said.
Like Brignac, ULL co-head coach Stefni Lotief credited the large crowd enthusiasm for helping her team.
“The Cajun nation was out in full force tonight. You could see a sea of red out there and the girls responded with a complete game of clutch hits, putting Mississippi Valley on the defense and playing solid defense ourselves,” Lotief said.
MVSU softball coach Lee Smith complimented his team’s effort.
“At the beginning our team came out and really played intense and played good defense. I thought (Lorenz) was spinning the ball well and was good at getting out of jams.
“I thought we hit a couple of deep balls that if they had been home runs, it could have changed things there early,” Smith said.
Lorenz said her pitching plan looked good in the beginning.
“In the first couple of innings, I mixed my pitches and I thought I got them off balance. They (ULL) are a good-hitting team and they were able to get a hold of the ball, Lorenz said.
Scoring for the Cajuns began in the third when third baseman Natalie Fernandez and left fielder Katie Smith slapped consecutive infield hits with none out.
The next batter, shortstop Nerissa Myers, punched a double down the right field line scoring both runners, after the Devilettes’ pulled third baseman Robertson off the line and in towards the plate.
Smith led off the fifth with her second single, followed by Myers, who went to first after Lorenz grazed her with a pitch.
Haack, batting fourth, sent the shot to left center to make it 5-0.
Center fielder Brianna Cherry followed with a single, catcher Sarah Draheim walked and then Cormier came up the second homer.
Cormier’s six-inning single scored Cherry, for the final run.
STANFORD 1, BAYLOR 0: Stanford scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the fifth inning after third baseman Hanna Winter led off with an infield hit that glanced off the right leg ot Baylor pitcher Courtney Repka.
Winter reached third off a sacrifice bunt by left fielder Leah White. Two batters later, center Cassandra Rouland sent a ground ball that went deep into the hole at shortstop for another infield single that scored Winter, who had two hits.
Stanford pitcher Teagan Gerhart struck out seven of the 24 batters she faced. Repka also allowed six hits and struck out four.
“It was kind of a throw back game that developed into a pitcher’s duel. I thought (Gerhart) and Repka both did an outstanding job.
“The difference in the game was we got the timely hit and Baylor didn’t,” said Baylor softball coach John Rittman.