After getting shut out twice Saturday and run-ruled in the nightcap, UL-Lafayette’s softball team needed a lift in Sunday’s series finale against No. 2 Florida.
Casidy Chaumont provided that lift in a big way.
The freshman second baseman sent a one-out change-up from Gators All-American pitcher Aleshia Ocasio over the left-field wall for a two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a thrilling and unlikely 4-3 win over the Gators.
“After yesterday, we just told ourselves we had to leave it all out there today,” said Chaumont, whose shot brought the Cajuns (7-2) back from a 3-2 deficit entering the bottom of the inning. “I mean, nothing compares to this.”
Florida (8-1), which took Saturday’s twinbill by a combined 13-0 score, had taken the lead in the top of the 11th when freshman Hannah Ada’s two-out sinking-liner double scored Ocasio from second base. That snapped a 2-2 tie that had been in place since the third inning.
It also set the stage for Chaumont's heroics.
“I told her to go up there and have fun and enjoy the moment,” said Cajuns coach Gerry Glasco. “I told her to make it her moment.”
That she did, giving UL-Lafayette a win and handing the Gators their first loss of the season even though the 2-2 change-up from Ocasio came as a surprise.
“My last two at-bats she’d come up on me, struck me out with a rise ball,” said Chaumont, who stepped into the regular second-base role when Brittany Holland suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season’s first weekend. “The last thing I expected was a change, but we needed two to win.”
Kara Gremillion laced a one-out single up the middle to put the tying run on base in the 11th and give Chaumont the opportunity.
“We’d had a couple of chances already,” Glasco said. “I had to fight not to steal Kara up with the speed she has, but I said let’s go for the long ball and I was hoping she’d get hold of one.”
The extra-inning heroics also made a heroic winner of sophomore pitcher Summer Ellyson (3-0), who outlasted the All-American duo of starter Kelly Barnhill and Ocasio (4-1). The Teurlings Catholic product threw 185 pitches and scattered eight hits, but only three of those hits came in the final eight innings.
“We never even talked about me going out,” said Ellyson. “It just kept being one more inning, one more inning. We kept saying in the dugout, 'We got this, we got this, we just need one hit.' Against a team like Florida, you go out and throw strikes and let the defense make plays.”
The Cajuns did that Sunday after not doing so in Saturday’s two games. Florida took a 4-0 win in Saturday’s opener behind returning national Player of the Year Barnhill’s two-hitter, and then won 9-0 in Game 2 as the Cajuns gave up 10 walks, hit three batters and committed three errors.
“We played so poorly last night, we didn’t want to let our program down like that,” Glasco said. “It’s one thing to get beat by one of the best teams in the country, but it’s another to play poorly. We had embarrassed ourselves last night with the way we played.”
Florida took an early 2-0 lead Sunday on Amanda Lorenz’ two-out, two-run single off Ellyson in the second inning, but UL-Lafayette came back against Barnhill with two runs in the third — its first runs of the series. Alissa Dalton’s two-run single plated Aeriyl Mass and Brittany Rodriguez, who had reached on a one-out walk and a sacrifice but that was misplayed by the Gators infield. Barnhill left after the third inning after giving up only the one hit but walking three.
Ellyson gave up two hits in the third but got out of the inning, and she didn’t allow another Florida runner past first base until the 10th. She gave up single hits in each of the final three innings, including Adams’ double that skipped past a diving Mass in center field in the 11th.
“We were close,” Glasco said when asked if Ellyson was about to exit. “But she’s got so much heart. You never know because she never shows a lot of emotion, but she just fought and fought and fought.”
Chaumont had homered in her first collegiate at-bat in UL-Lafayette’s 7-1 win over Samford 10 days ago but only had one hit since that opener. She wasn’t sure if her fly ball had enough on it, with Gator left fielder Jaimie Hoover bracing for a jump near the wall.
“Definitely this one means a lot more,” she said. “This is Florida. This is pretty big. I saw the left fielder, and I was thinking, 'No, she’s not going to rob me.' ”