Clearwater, Fla. - Just one day after scoring a combined four runs in a two game split, the Ragin’ Cajuns softball team got the bats going en route to two wins in day two of the NFCA Leadoff Classic. The Cajuns opened the day defeating Illinois State 8-5, and closed the day defeating Hofstra 4-2 to improve their record to 11-2.
“We played well, everyday is going to be a war.” Head coach Megan Granger said. “We’re always trying to get better day-by-day. I like the way things have looked offensively and we are going to keep improving it.”
It was a huge day at the plate for senior outfielder Brianna Cherry. Cherry went 3-for-6 with two home runs and a double with four RBI in the two games. The home runs were numbers five and six on the season, and she now has five homers in the last seven games.
The Cajuns fell behind early in the first game when the Illinois State leadoff hitter sent the first pitch she saw over the right field wall. They had another shot to score in the first, but a solid relay from Shellie Landry to Nerissa Myers to Sarah Draheim cut down a runner at the plate, keeping the score 1-0.
The Cajuns responded in their half of the second inning with a four run rally. Natalie Fernandez picked up and RBI with a single, driving in Cassidy White, who was pinch running for Sara Corbello, and advancing Samantha Walsh to third base. Walsh then came around to score, advancing on a throw to second when Fernandez stole. The Cajuns would add two more in the inning, putting them up 4-1.
The Redbirds took over the lead in the fourth inning with a two-out grand slam to deep right field and give them a one-run lead.
The lead would not last long, however. Matte Haack sent the first pitch she saw over the fence for a one-out solo home run, tying the game.
The Cajuns didn’t last wait long to break the tie. They plated three more runs in the fifth inning and taking a 8-5 lead. Nerissa Myers drove in Leandra Maly with a two-out single to put the Cajuns up one. The Redbirds went to the bullpen and Brianna Cherry greeted the reliever with a two-run homer, well past the left field fence.
Jordan Wallace would be the pitcher of record in game one, allowing five earned runs on six walks, while striking out eight batters in the complete game effort. The win improved her season record to 7-1 with a 1.49 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 47.0 innings pitched.
The Cajuns had a quick turnaround before game two, this time against 2012 super regional qualifier Hofstra. Louisiana sent Victoria Brown to the mound for her first start of the season, and Hofstra countered with All-American Olivia Galati. Gatali led the NCAA in ERA last season (0.95) and had 378 strikeouts in 280.2 innings pitched.
Nerissa Myers started the game with a deep fly ball to left field for an out. Cherry would follow that up with another no-doubter, well over the left field wall for an early lead for the Cajuns.
“Brianna is hitting well for us.” Granger said of the seniors performance in the last few games. “She has done a good job stepping up as a leader on and off the field.”
Hofstra responded with a run in the second to tie it, before the Cajuns took the insurmountable lead. Walsh came to the plate with Corbello on first and sent her first home run of her career over the left field fence, making it 3-1 Cajuns.
Hofstra added one more run in the fourth, of Brown, before she was relieved by Kristin Martinez to star the fifth inning with a now 4-1 lead thanks to a Sarah Draheim RBI-double in the fifth. Brown’s final pitching line was 4.0 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and zero walks, while striking out four.
Martinez took the Cajuns the rest of the way, tossing three perfect innings and striking out three, for the three-inning save.
“We saw a lot of good things from our pitching staff [this weekend].” Granger said after the doubleheader on Saturday. “We are going to continue to incorporation consistency throughout our pitching staff.”
The Cajuns will play one more game in the NFCA Leadoff Classic against James Madison, before returning home for one game against Southern University on Wednesday night. They will then travel right back to Florida, this time to Kissimmee for the Diamond Nine Citrus Classic. There they will face Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Texas, the College of Charleston and Illinois State.