The Cajuns (48-8-1) are now one win away from their sixth Women's College World Series berth in school history, and first since 2008 when they won the Houston Super Regional to advance to Oklahoma City.
"I'm proud of how the team approached their preparation this week," Lotief said. "They are still in a good mindset. They understand that this is a three-game series, there will be no celebration, it's going to be a war. We have a worthy opponent on the other side and now it is about seeing what we did well and seeing what we didn't do so well to prepare and make adjustments for tomorrow."
Christina Hamilton got the win in the circle for the Cajuns, improving to 28-2 on the season with her 20th complete game. The junior allowed two earned runs on seven hits and struck out four batters, keeping the nation's most potent offense at bay for most of the game.
Arizona took no time displaying their ability to hit the long-ball. Hallie Wilson hit a lead-off home run, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Wilson was followed by a single and a walk, but Hamilton got out of the inning with a strikeout, a flyout and a fielder's choice to limit the damage.
The Cajuns responded immediately. Walsh came to the plate with two outs and a runner on first and gave the Cajuns a 2-1 lead with her 11th home run of the season. The home run came one pitch after a dropped foul tip with two strikes and two outs, giving Walsh more life.
Louisiana would put another crooked number on the board in the second inning to make it 4-1. Shelbi Redfearn and Kelsey Vincent started the inning with back-to-back walks, which led to a pair of two-out RBI singles from Natalie Fernandez and Haley Hayden.
Sara Corbello continued to add to the Cajuns' lead in the bottom of the third with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right field, bringing in Shellie Landry to score and make it 5-1.
Arizona went to the bullpen in the fourth inning, ending the day for starter Estela Piñon, and bringing in Shelby Babcock. Piñon tossed 3.0 innings, allowing all five runs on five hits and four walks.
Babcock was the change of pace the Wildcats needed, throwing the final 3.0 innings allowing just one hit, but giving five runners a base on balls, while fanning two batters.
Arizona mounted a comeback in the top of the sixth inning, once again by way of a home run, when Kellie Fox hit a two-run homer to cut the Cajuns' lead to 5-3.
Hamilton was unfazed, however, picking up back-to-back strikeouts after the homer, a fielder's choice two batters later, to seal the game and give the Cajuns a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
"Tonight was phenomenal," Lotief added. "I'm proud of our community, I'm proud of this University and I'm proud of our players. There is still work to be done tomorrow though."
The Cajuns and Wildcats will return to Lamson Park Saturday at 2 p.m. for the conclusion of the series. The Cajuns will be the visiting team in the first game. The Cajuns can end the series and punch their ticket to Oklahoma City with a win in the first game, with Arizona needing two wins to advance.