The second game Saturday allowed the No. 8-ranked UL Ragin' Cajuns to feel a little better, but it was still a disappointing Day 2 of the 34th Annual Louisiana Classics on Saturday at Lamson Park.
After losing 2-1 to North Texas in Game 1, UL senior ace Summer Ellyson was dominant in the circle in the nightcap and the Cajuns took full advantage of UTSA's wildness in an 11-1 run-rule win over the Roadrunners in five innings.
"The one fear I had as a coach, worrying about how soon we could compete well as a team together," UL coach Gerry Glasco said. "We had a great January. We scrimmaged 10 games and our team batting average was .360 and most of those at-bats were against Summer and (Megan) Kleist. Then all of a sudden, we get in real competition and we don't know how to compete well as a team together.
"We've got to overcome that. We've got to figured out how to compete well together, and it caught up with us in that game. We hadn't competed well all weekend. Hopefully, we can figure it out quick."
Ellyson took a perfect game into the fifth, but Riley Grunberg led off the fifth with a solo home run. Ellyson captured her second win of the season, allowing just that one hit, walked one and struck out eight in 4⅔ innings. Birthday girl Casey Dixon got the final out.
The first game didn’t go as planned with the No. 8-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns barely escaping a 3-2 scare from Ball State.
UTSA pitching walked nine and hit a batter. Around all those free bases, Julie Rawls hit a three-run homer to left in the third and Brittany Holland smashed a grand slam to right to highlight a eight-run fourth.
"The loss is tough," Rawls said. "It's tough to get it this early in the season, but it's just something to learn from. We didn't execute in the situations we needed to."
It was an especially sweet moment for Holland, who missed the last two seasons with back-to-back knee surgeries.
"It's been a really long journey the past two years - work, work, work," Holland said. "My dad always says work while you wait. So every day has been a grind.
"I can't say I'm not nervous. I was very nervous but once I'm out there, I'm just playing and having fun. I'm not out there trying to do too much. I'm back to what I've been missing."
The feel-good Game 2, however, didn't totally erase the sting of the first loss of the season.
Except for one six-run inning in the fifth Friday night, the Cajuns continued to struggle at the plate in the early going before it turned dark Saturday.
On Friday night, the weather was chilly. On a sunny afternoon Saturday, it was UL's pop that was ice cold.
Sarah Hudek and Alissa Dalton both reached to lead off the first two innings off North Texas starter Bailey Tindell, but nothing transpired.
Opening day is about first impressions.
UL pitcher Megan Kleist blinked first, sort of. To be more specific, the Cajuns' defense behind her did. Lacy Gregory led off the fourth with a single and advanced on an error. Tayla Evans then followed with an RBI single to right for a 1-0 lead.
The Cajuns got a two-out hustle double from Kaitlyn Alderink in the bottom of the fourth. Curiously, North Texas coach Rodney Delong quickly pulled his starter for junior Hope Trautwein, who limited UL to three hits in a 5-1 win last year.
Trautwein was greeted with an RBI single by Alissa Dalton to tie the game at 1-1, but the Conference USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year didn't allow another baserunner.
It appeared Alderink was safe at first base to lead off the seventh, but North Texas got the call and Trautwein officially retired the last 10 she faced to give UL its first loss of the season for the second straight year. Trautwein and Tindell combined to limit UL to one run on four hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
"We've hit the ball the whole month and we hit the ball well," Glasco said. "We get out here in the games all weekend and it's just disappointing with our effort I felt like we were really prepared, but I guess we weren't mentally prepared."
Kleist was the hard-luck loser — her first as a Cajun — allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, two walks and striking out 11.
In a perfect world, the last few intrasquad scrimmages at Lamson Park would have answered all the lingering questions for the No. 8-ranked UL …