TEMPE, Ariz. — The Louisiana-Lafayette softball season came to an end Friday night as the Ragin’ Cajuns dropped the third game of their super regional series against Arizona State, falling 8-0 in six innings, just hours after losing the second game of the series 9-2.
The loss kept ULL from reaching its sixth Women’s College World Series, while the reigning national champion Sun Devils move onto their sixth Series appearance in seven years under coach Clint Myers.
Just one night after ULL freshman pitcher Jordan Wallace shut down the potent Sun Devils lineup to the tune of zero runs and three base runners allowed, ASU’s bats unloaded for eleven hits and four home runs. The Sun Devils launched a total of eight long balls on the night. Conversely, the Ragin’ Cajuns bats, which led all of Division I-A in scoring, totaled six runs against Dallas Escobedo on Thursday and had given the star pitcher an 7.00 ERA in their previous three meetings, where held to just five hits and but one serious scoring threat.
“I’m very confident that our group will take the life lesson that will be learned from this experience and they’ll go out in the world and make it a better place,” ULL co-coach Michael Lotief said. “You realize that after this weekend a lot of really good teams will be going home. That’s the way the NCAA has it set up. I think we were one of the best teams in the country.”
Lotief said that there wasn’t much different for his freshman starting pitcher Wallace from Thursday’s game, saying that young pitchers go through ups and downs. On the surface, there was little different in Wallace’s performance from Thursday to Friday. In the Thursday’s game, 16 of ASU’s 21 outs came in the air. Nearly the same proportion of outs came on fly balls Friday, but this time four of them left the park — each with runners on base. Wallace didn’t walk a batter.
“I don’t think her speed was any different, or what she was trying to do was any different” Lotief said. “Obviously, as she matures, she is going to have to develop some more pitches. You aren’t going to beat a team of that caliber the same way over and over and over because they are going to adjust. But she is young in the maturation process and she’ll get better.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns failed to alleviate the pressure on their freshman pitcher, mounting just one rally late in the game. After Wallace stranded the potential game-winning runner on second base in the bottom of the fifth inning, ULL came back to load the bases with nobody out as Natalie Fernandez, Katie Smith (who had three of the team’s five hits) and Nerissa Myers all singled. Christi Orgeron, who led all of Division I-A softball in RBIs over the last two years, fouled out to third base. Matte Haack struck out and Brianna Cherry’s fly ball to deep center field was caught near the top of the wall by ASU’s Elizabeth Caporuscio, who had to change directions twice as wind currents altered the ball’s course.
“To me, today, and I tell my kids this all the time, ‘Softball is a game of inches.’ Sometimes it’s a game of a few inches and sometimes it’s a game of a couple more inches. It just went the wrong way today,” Lotief said.
Escobedo struck out seven ULL batters, with few hard hits when the Ragin’ Cajuns made contact.
Despite the dominant doubleheader performance from Myer’s team, the Sun Devils coach said he was impressed with the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“I think they are a phenomenal team,” Myer said. “They never quit, they never stop competing. It’s a shame we had to meet here because they are a World Series caliber team. And they’re going to be a forced to be reckoned with and around for a long time.”
The team will return to Lafayette on Saturday and fans are invited to greet them when they arrive. Gates at Lamson Park will open at 6:30 p.m. with the team arriving at approximately 7 p.m.