Louisiana Faces Texas In Regional Finals
The 11th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun softball team face the Texas Longhorns on Championship Sunday of the Lafayette, La. NCAA Softball Regional at Lamson Park.
Louisiana, who defeated Texas Southern, 7-4, on Friday, and then Texas, 3-2, on Saturday in a winners bracket game, won the regular season Sun Belt Conference title, as well as the postseason tournament, and heads into the match-up at 46-8-1 on the year.
The Cajuns, who are the #6-overall national seed, have won 38 of their final 41 games.
Louisiana, who is a national seed for the first time in program history, is appearing in their 24th regional in the last 25 years.
Texas, who advanced into the winners bracket by defeating Mississippi St., 4-3, on Saturday night, is currently 35-22 on the season.
Louisiana scored two runs in the bottom half of the seventh to defeat Texas on Saturday, and won the game on a walk-off walk by Sara Corbello, scoring Samantha Walsh.
Texas defeated Mississippi St. in equally dramatic fashion.
Down, 3-1, with two outs, and nobody on base, the Longhorns got two hitters to reach, before Lindsey Stevens hit a dramatic three-run, go-ahead homer, to give Texas the 4-3 lead, and the eventual win.
Offensively, the Cajuns are currently hitting a .306 as a team, which led the Sun Belt Conference, along with 81 home runs, which was also tops in the league, 332 RBI’s, and 44 stolen bases.
Louisiana is led by senior second baseman Natalie Fernandez, who led the Sun Belt Conference in hitting (.441) and on-base percentage (.545), and sophomore catcher Lexie Elkins, the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, who is hitting a .385, while finishing as the league-leader in both home runs, with 18, and runs batted in, with 68.
The Cajuns also boast freshman outfielder Hayley Hayden, who finished second in the conference in both home runs (15) and RBI’s (53), while hitting a .337.
The Longhorns are hitting a .338 as a team, along with 47 home runs, 303 RBI’s, and 82 stolen bases.
Offensively, Texas is paced by senior outfielder Brejae Washington, who is hitting a .426 with 18 runs batted in, to go along with a .527 on-base percentage, and 32 stolen bases, as well as senior shortstop Taylor Thom, who is batting a .382 with 10 homers and 43 RBI’s.
The biggest power threat for the Longhorns is sophomore Lindsey Stephens, who is hitting a .373, along with a team-high 16 home runs and 66 runs batted in.
Texas has nine regular to semi-regular players that are hitting a .300, or better.
Pitching-wise, Louisiana brings a an overall team ERA. of 2.84 into the game, which ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference. Junior right-hander Christina Hamilton, the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, is currently 26-2, with a 1.55 ERA., while junior right-hander Jordan Wallace is 14-3, with a 4.04 ERA.
Hamilton was the winning pitcher against Texas on Saturday, tossing seven innings, allowing three hits, two runs, only one earned, while walking two and striking out two.
Texas features freshman left-hander Tiarra Davis, who is 19-13 on the season, along with a 2.30 earned run average, while striking out 169 batters in 191.1 innings, as well as junior right-hander Gabby Smith (14-4, 2.80).
Davis was the losing pitcher against Louisiana on Saturday, tossing 6.1 innings, allowing eight hits, and three runs, while walking six and striking out five.
Texas defeated Louisiana twice earlier this season, winning by scores of 10-7 and 7-3, before the Cajuns won on Saturday, 3-2, snapping a five-game losing streak to UT.
The Longhorns lead the all-time series, 10-3.
The Cajuns eliminated the Longhorns from the 2011 Austin, Texas Regional, winning 5-3 before the 3-2 win on Saturday, and have won the last two postseason match-ups between the two schools
First-pitch is scheduled for 12 noon.
If Louisiana wins, they move on to their third-consecutive Super Regional.
If Texas wins, it would force an “if necessary game” approximately 35 minutes later.
The unbeaten team going into Sunday has gone on to win every regional in which Louisiana has been involved in since the Super Regional format began back in 2005.
Even more interesting, since that format began, the winner of the regional in which the Cajuns have been involved in has never had to play an “if necessary” game on Sunday.
You can hear all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420 & espn1420.com beginning with the pre-game show at 5:40 pm.
View more information on the Lafayette, La. Regional here.
View the complete NCAA Tournament bracket here.