LAFAYETTE — When the Ragin’ Cajuns went with the flow Thursday night, they were able to stay a step ahead of Texas Tech.
Aleah Craighton had five RBIs to help propel the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team to 6-2 and 11-5 wins over the Red Raiders at Lamson Park.
“Our hitters understand if a pitcher wants to challenge us inside, we have enough power to handle that,” Cajuns coach Mike Lotief said. “If you are a power hitter and you get a pitch low and away, you can’t be selfish. You have to take what the pitcher gives you.”
In the nightcap, Craighton’s single to center — misplayed by Texas Tech outfielder Jordan Bettiol, got things rolling on a four-run first inning. The Cajuns eventually built a 7-1 advantage before the Red Raiders climbed back in the game, narrowing the gap to 7-5.
The Cajuns pushed their lead back to four, 9-5, when Kelsey Vincent smacked a two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth. Craighton closed out the scoring when she turned a long at-bat into a two-run double to score pinch runner Meagan Thomas and catcher Lexie Elkins.
“I just wanted to wait back and not get too far out on my front foot as a hitter,” Craighton said. We prepare for each game to give our best and we trust that preparation.”
The Cajuns took control in the opener thanks to three runs in the fourth inning and two in the fifth that turned a 2-1 Red Raiders lead into a new ballgame.
Elkins — a Texas Tech transfer — launched a deep solo homer to left to tie the score at 2 before the Cajuns picked up a pair of additional runs on an error and a groundout.
Craighton came up with her second homer to change the score to 6-2 in the fifth. That offensive support helped back Stewart, who set a new season high with nine strikeouts on the way to running her record to 6-0.
Stewart moved to 7-0 later Thursday night, picking up the win in the second game.
“Alex was still fresh and her changeup was the difference,” Lotief said. “It kept them off balance. We wanted to stay with that combination. The last three innings (of the first game) was all guts from Alex. I like the way our hitters competed. This team has the right mindset and personality.”
The Cajuns (10-1) will begin play at the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational with a 4:30 p.m. Friday game against Rutgers.