ATLANTA — DJ Sanders provided the winning runs in both ends of the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team’s Sun Belt Conference doubleheader Saturday in a 4-1, 6-5 sweep at Georgia State.
Sanders ended a scoreless matchup in Game 1 with a two-run home run in the fourth inning. That was enough offense for Alex Stewart, who allowed one run and scattered seven hits for her 16th win.
With the No. 5 Ragin’ Cajuns (31-3, 12-1) down to their final two outs in Game 2 and trailing 5-4, Sanders launched a two-run homer over the right-field fence to help her team overcome a wild fifth inning that saw the Panthers (19-21, 4-7) pull ahead.
Sanders increased her season home run total to 13, which trails only Lexie Elkins (17) for the team lead.
The Cajuns stretched their overall winning streak to six and Sun Belt streak to eight. The sweep secured them their 26th consecutive Sun Belt Conference series victory, a streak that dates to March 2013.
The Cajuns’ come-from-behind win in Game 2 allowed them to maintain their one-game lead on South Alabama (23-11, 11-2), which swept Texas-Arlington, for first place in the Sun Belt.
In the opener, Brittany Nollkamper led off the third inning with her first collegiate hit, then Kassidy Zeringue lifted a single down the left-field line. But GSU’s Katie Worley retired the next three Cajuns to escape the jam.
The Cajuns then struck first, scoring in the fourth on Sanders’s two-run homer; it scored Aleah Craighton, who led off the inning with a wind-blown infield single.
Georgia State loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half and scratched a run on a misplay of a grounder to trim the Cajuns’ lead to 2-1. Back-to-back ground balls to Kara Gremillion at third forced out the lead runner at home plate, then Stewart induced a fly ball from Ivie Drake to protect the lead.
Stewart, who shut out the Panthers over their final three at-bats, received insurance runs in the seventh inning on a two-run homer by Shellie Landry that increased the lead to 4-1.
After getting traffic in the first two innings of Game 2 but being kept off the board as GSU’s Annie Davis induced ground ball outs, the Cajuns were able to break through in the third inning.
Haley Hayden (single), Landry (single) and Kelsey Vincent (walk) reached in succession to start the inning. Craighton muscled a single into left-center, scoring Hayden with the first run. A grounder to shortstop and a leaping catch at third base that resulted in a double play allowed GSU to prevent further damage.
The Panthers countered in the bottom of the third by loading the bases with one out after a single by Reagan Morgan. Kylee Jo Trahan notched a strikeout and induced a fly ball to hold the lead at 1-0.
The Cajuns added a run in the fourth after an error on a Zeringue bunt single, then two more in the fifth on Craighton’s two-run homer.
GSU turned the momentum in its favor in the fifth and erased the 4-0 deficit with a five-run rally. The hosts scored two runs on a home run by Drake and took advantage of Cajuns miscues to add three more runs.
Victoria Brown, the Cajuns’ second reliever in the inning, eventually quieted the Panthers uprising, notching three straight outs with the bases loaded.
The teams complete the series at 11 a.m. Sunday (KPEL-AM, 1420).