LAFAYETTE — His Ragin’ Cajuns softball team might have lost twice Saturday evening to a touring National Pro Fastpitch All-Star team, but Louisiana-Lafayette coach Michael Lotief said the experience was worth it.
“If you’re going to be the best, you have to play against the best,” Lotief said after the NPF squad took 5-3 and 4-2 wins over a Cajuns squad coming off a Women’s College World Series appearance.
“Playing against a team like this does a lot for us ... it exposes them to the best players in the country.”
The NPF plays its regular season during the summer, wrapping up its playoffs in late August, but a group of players from the league are touring against U.S. collegiate squads during the fall season. College softball teams are allowed to play eight games during the fall season, and the UL-Lafayette squad has played a twin bill against an NPF all-star unit in each of the last three seasons.
This year’s NPF group included shortstop Nerissa Myers, a former Cajun All-American who finished her collegiate career in 2013. Myers celebrated her homecoming with four hits.
“It’s good for our kids and good for our fans to have the chance to bring these kids back,” Lotief said.
“They are the ones that set a standard in this program and in this community. It’s a good thing to have players like that back.”
The Cajuns, who already have one fall win over Galveston College and will play five more times in the next three weeks, led 2-0 in the nightcap on Shellie Landry’s two-out two-run homer that scored Haley Hayden.
But the NPF squad took advantage of wildness from UL-Lafayette senior pitcher Jordan Wallace and pushed across two runs in the fourth and single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Wallace only allowed two hits, including an RBI double to former Cajun teammate Sarah Draheim in the two-run fourth, but struggled with 10 walks and two hit batsmen. Lisa Norris, a UL-Lafayette assistant coach who plays in the NPF, got the win in relief in the second game and also had a bases-loaded walk in the fourth and plated an insurance run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly.
The Cajuns threatened with runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh innings, but Norris pitched out of trouble. Norris, who pitches for the Akron Racers in the NPF, struck out 11 batters in four innings of work.
The NPF squad pushed across two unearned runs in the second inning of the opener, with pitcher Tatum Edwards singling home one run and scoring herself on an error for an early 2-0 lead. Edwards, who pitches for the NPF’s Pennsylvania Rebellion, checked the Cajuns on one hit in her five innings to pickup the win.
That UL-Lafayette run came in the second inning when Corin Voinche drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored when Hayden’s ground ball was misplayed by NPF first baseman Brianna Hamilton.
The All-Stars put the opener away with a four-hit, three-run barrage in the fourth inning off Cajun loser Victoria Brown, with former Texas standout Nadia Taylor lacing a one-out solo homer and Hamilton, Edwards and Norris following with consecutive hits.
The Cajuns threatened with two runs in the sixth off reliever and former Mississippi State pitcher Alison Owen, with Landry knocking in one with a sharp single and later scoring on an error.
But Owen retired the final four batters she faced including an up-and-down seventh inning.
“This gives us a good measuring stick,” Lotief said. “It’s a chance to see where we are, and going against players like this shows us where we want to be.”
The Cajuns host McNeese State at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lamson Park in their next fall outing.