LAFAYETTE — Passing the bat and impressive pitching proved to be effective tools for the Louisiana-Lafayette softball squad on a senior weekend Saturday afternoon.
Pitcher Alex Stewart picked up two wins, and the No. 9 Ragin’ Cajuns used 16 hits to grind out a 6-1, 5-0 doubleheader sweep of Louisiana-Monroe at Lamson Park.
“Our whole mentality is to just try to pass the bat to our teammates, have a good at-bat and stay locked in on every pitch,” senior first baseman Kelsey Vincent said after she capped a four-run rally in the opener by launching a two-run homer to left that put the Cajuns up 4-0. “That was a nice home run. I haven’t felt one like that (off the bat) in about a month.”
Vincent’s effort came on the heels of senior Shellie Landry’s two-out, two-run single.
Stewart silenced the Warhawks through four innings in the first game by carrying a no-hitter for the first 12 outs. After the Cajuns (39-7, 20-2 Sun Belt) moved ahead 6-0, Macey Smith took over for Stewart and handled the last three innings. Both Stewart and Smith helped limit a ULM offense that ranks first in the Sun Belt with 2.2 steals per game by not walking anybody.
“All season long, people have gotten on base and, when that happens, I just try not to look at it as pressure,” Stewart said. “I just say, ‘You’re not going to score.’ ”
The Warhawks’ lone run came when they were down to their last out. Amye Barre lifted a high fly ball that cleared the fence and a leaping Kelli Martinez. Smith retired Faith Bohack on a soft liner back to the pitcher’s circle to end it.
Stewart had to work out of a jam in the second inning of the second game after Melanie Coyne and Bohack started the inning with back-to-back singles to put ULM runners at first and second. Each moved up a base on a groundout, but Stewart retired Hunter Hogan and Carlie Comeaux on a popout and a strikeout.
“I still have things I want to work on, and I still have to make adjustments,” Stewart said.
The Cajuns’ adjustments at the plate in the second game sometimes came in the span of a single at-bat. Shortstop DJ Sanders turned a 14-pitch at-bat into a walk during the Cajuns’ three-run second inning. Kara Gremillion drove home Aleah Craighton and Sanders by smacking a double off the base of the wall in the left-center gap to make it 2-0. Freshman catcher Brittany Nollkamper helped keep things going when she picked up her first extra-base hit and RBI as a Cajun by lining a double down the right-field line.
“It did feel good to see Brittany get that hit,” coach Mike Lotief said. “She’s a good kid, and she has filled in admirably (at catcher). That kid is a competitor.”
The Cajuns tacked on runs in the third and sixth to back Stewart, who improved to 24-4. Gremillion finished the doubleheader 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs. Bohack went 2-for-3 in the second game for ULM (23-31, 7-16).
The Cajuns’ six seniors will play their final regular-season home game at Lamson Park at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“This weekend is bittersweet,” Vincent said. “You try to win another softball game (amid the emotion) and focus to play the game like we always do.”