LAFAYETTE — It wasn’t the prettiest performance in Ragin’ Cajuns softball history, but the win counts all the same.
In fact, with a six-run lead in the seventh inning, UL-Lafayette nearly gave away Friday’s game against the Michigan Wolverines. The Cajuns gave up four runs — including three with two outs — but the onslaught of early UL-Lafayette home runs proved to be too much in the 8-6 victory.
“We did not pitch well,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “We laid it in there and walked way too many people. Our pitchers didn’t trust their game at all, and that is never a good thing.”
Michigan’s starting pitcher, Sara Driesenga, pitched 4.2 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits, including two home runs. Megan Betsa relieved Dreisenga, but didn’t fare much better, giving up two runs — including a home run to Corin Voinche that inched its way over the opposite-field fence.
Haley Hayden and Shelbi Redfearn each had home runs for the Cajuns. UL-Lafayette pitcher Jordan Wallace was effective enough to get the complete game, but she did give up six runs on 11 hits.
From her viewpoint, Hutchins said Wallace looked good, and although she thought her team just had a lot of good at bats against her, they just didn’t come with runners in scoring position.
“Jordan Wallace is a great pitcher,” Hutchins said. “I thought that when they left our place last year (in the Ann Arbor Super Regional, which the Wolverines won). Until the seventh inning, we did not have good at-bats with runners in scoring position. She is tough, and she’s only going to get tougher. It’s only February.”
The seventh inning saw Michigan finally put together a decent rally. The Wolverines scratched across four runs, including a two-RBI double off the wall from Nicole Sappingfield. With two outs and two runners on, Caitlin Blanchard swung at a fastball and popped up to end the game.
“That inning is the one thing you wish for,” Hutchins said. “When you’re down a hundred runs, you don’t have much fear. I think the whole game we were uptight and had that fear factor. We got down by six and we put it together with a chance to win. We got the 2-0 count and swung at (Wallace’s) pitch. That was a bad at-bat.”
A lot of talk was made about the Cajuns having a chance to avenge the 2013 Super Regional loss against the Wolverines, but Hutchins downplayed that being a factor at all.
“I know it wasn’t for us,” she said. “I don’t believe in that. You can’t take last year away from us and this year, it’s whoever shows up will probably win. Right now, I have to get my team to show up.”
The Cajuns held off Valparaiso 3-2 in their second game of the afternoon.