MOBILE, Ala. — The Louisiana-Lafayette softball team’s series win over South Alabama felt a little like a loss — especially after the Ragin’ Cajuns dropped Sunday’s series finale 8-5.
Even though the Cajuns swept a doubleheader Saturday to secure the series, coach Michael Lotief said he was disappointed in Sunday’s loss, but not in his team’s effort.
“We let that game slip away from us,” he said. “We gave them too many unearned runs, which is uncharacteristic of what we do. The good thing is, we battled back. We put ourselves in a position to win, and the kids showed a lot of fight there at the end.”
Down 8-3 into the seventh inning Sunday, the Cajuns fought back and scored two runs, but a Shellie Landry rope to left field was caught with a sensational leaping grab by South Alabama third baseman Emily Messer; Messer then doubled up the runner at second base.
“These kids are fighters,” Lotief said. “If we put a couple inches on that ball at third base, I think we win the game. A lot of these teams would have packed it in (trailing 8-3 in the seventh) and said, ‘We got two already; let’s get on the bus.’ ”
Lotief pointed specifically to the top of the first inning Sunday as a key missed opportunity. With the Cajuns up 1-0, one out and the bases loaded, Aleah Craighton took a called strike three for the second out before Leandra Maly slapped the ball right to the third baseman, who got the force at home.
“We had a chance in that first inning with the bases loaded to put the game away,” Lotief said. “You can’t do that, and those are things that we have to learn from and those are things that we have to get better at. ...
“We are a good softball team, but we are also a flawed softball team. We are not as strong in all the areas that we need to be strong in. When you play a three-game series, you have to be consistent in all phases of the game all weekend long.
“We weren’t. We were strong in some of the phases, especially in the first two games. We pitched really well, but not as good as we have pitched.”
Lotief said Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton were effective in the first two games, but they weren’t their best performances. Then, in the third game, the pitching became inconsistent and Lotief said the offense became predictable.
“In Game 3, we couldn’t find anyone who could be consistent in what we were trying to execute,” Lotief said. “I think our short game and our slappers have played good in spurts. I think we’ve become predictable sometimes and easier to defend. Our hitters do a good job, but we tail off too strong at the end and we don’t protect each other.”
The Cajuns (17-3) visit Northwestern State (12-12) on Wednesday.