WKU eliminates ULL at Sun Belt tournament

TROY, Ala. — Top-seeded Western Kentucky scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning to defeat No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 7-4 in the semifinal round of the Sun Belt Conference softball tournament, eliminating the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Amanda Thomas led off the 10th inning for WKU (41-15) with the go-ahead home run to left field against the third-seeded Cajuns (43-12). It was the 14th homer of the year for Thomas, who finished the game with a pair of hits and two RBIs.

“I know a lot of balls don’t go out on this field because of its length, but I was just praying for it to go over, and it ended up going,” Thomas said. “Being picked sixth in the preseason poll was one of the biggest motivators for us. We knew all along that we had the talent and skill to beat any team we played on the field.”

Kelsie Mattox kept the 10th inning going with a single to left field, which led to back-to-back RBI doubles by Shawna Sadler and Karavin Dew to increase the lead to 7-4.

Emily Rousseau (24-6) pitched all 10 innings for the Lady Toppers. Victoria Brown (9-2) took the loss despite pitching 9.1 innings. She re-entered in the seventh after Kristin Martinez tossed a scoreless two-thirds of an inning.

The Ragin’ Cajuns had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with one out. But Natalie Fernandez hit a ground ball to third base that resulted in a force-out at home. With two outs, Rousseau got a groundout to first base to get out the jam.

Later Saturday, South Alabama pitcher Hannah Campbell fired a complete-game shutout to lead the 19th-ranked Jaguars to their second consecutive Sun Belt championship with a 2-0 victory over WKU.

The Cajuns entered the weekend ranked 20th in the NCAA’s RPI.

They will learn their postseason destination at 9 p.m. Sunday during the NCAA’s tournament Selection Show. The NCAA regionals begin Thursday.