Cajuns battle through struggles to sweep South Alabama _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- UL-Lafayette's Aleah Craighton makes contact against South Alabama on Sunday at Lamson Park. Craighton went 3-for-7 in the doubleheader sweep, hitting two homers and driving in four runs.

LAFAYETTE — After winning the first game of the softball doubleheader against South Alabama 3-2, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball team struggled in the second game and was down 6-2 in the sixth inning.

“That is the worst we were playing all season,” Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mike Lotief said. “We were uptight and pressing, and nothing was going our way while (South Alabama) was doing everything right. When the lid came off, everybody just felt this huge sense of relief, and they just started playing softball.”

The lid came off the tune of eight runs in the sixth inning, including a two-RBI single from Shellie Landry and a three-run home run from Aleah Craighton. Lotief said he was of course happy with 10-6 win, but more happy with the battle the Cajuns (19-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) showed.

“We struggled and didn’t pay well and just kept battling,” Lotief said. “I don’t care about the outcome, I just like the fact that we continued to battle.”

South Alabama falls to 10-10, 0-2.

Landry’s single in the sixth came after two hard-hit balls resulted in outs earlier in the second game. Landry said she puts too much pressure on herself and tries to be a perfectionist.

“I do put a lot of pressure on myself,” she said. “But I just want to play perfect, and I know this game won’t allow it. I did hit it right at the shortstop and right at the second baseman, but both were pretty hard hits. You just have to trust that if you keep hitting it as hard as you can, eventually they’ll fall.”

Though Landry’s season may not be up to her standards, Lotief said she’s having a year most teams in the country would put right in the middle of their lineup. He said performing under pressure is a lot harder than most people think, and he said no one puts more pressure on the Cajuns than themselves.

“I am not saying anyone puts pressure on these kids; they put it on themselves,” he said. “South Al knows us, and they weren’t going to just come in here and roll over. Shellie puts too much pressure on herself, and she has to be a perfectionist in a game that doesn’t allow you to be perfect. She is really good without having a ‘good year.’ That kid is just going to keep hacking, and if she’s hacking, she’s playing.”

In both games the Cajuns fell behind early with a 2-0 deficit in the first inning of game one and a 3-0 deficit in the first inning of the second game. Lotief said battling back is something that will set the tone for the rest of the season.

“I am glad to see us struggle today and battle back,” he said. “We weren’t playing very good softball, yet we continued to fight and we showed that that is who we are and what we’re made of. That makes me proud.”