OXFORD, Miss. There were several sloppy base-running mistakes.
There were several occasions when the bunt wasn’t properly executed.
But UL junior pitcher Summer Ellyson was typical Summer Ellyson.
Postseason Lexie Comeaux was postseason Lexie Comeaux.
And disciplined hitter Alissa Dalton was herself as well.
Fortunately for the No. 7-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns, the latter overcame the former in surviving a 3-2 scare from Southeast Missouri in the NCAA Oxford regional opener Friday at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.
“It was an interesting game,” UL coach Gerry Glasco said. “I’m proud of the girls for figuring out a way to win. I didn’t feel like we played anywhere near the level or potential we should play at.
UL (51-4) will now play the Ole Miss-Chattanooga winner at noon Saturday.
“We had a lot of misplays on our part,” Glasco said. “Summer pitched a great game and our defense was solid.”
At times during their year and a half together, it’s probably felt like a tug-of-war for both of them.
After the pitchers ruled the first two innings, it was a caught stealing at third and trying to stretch a single into a double in the fourth that halted the Cajuns’ offense.
“There’s a difference between being aggressive and stupid on the bases,” Glasco said. “We were stupid on the bases today. We just have to calm down. I think everybody was just too hyped up. People were just trying to do too much. My message after the game was to breathe deeper, take deep breaths.
“Sometimes you can want to win too bad. I think our kids were a reflection of that.”
But when things got testy, Dalton and Comeaux delivered.
Dalton delivered a two-run single up the middle in the third for a 2-1 UL lead.
“In those big moments, every hitter wants to be the hero that hits the home run, but it’s more about the team in that situation, just peppering something through the infield just to get the run or runners in scoring position,” Dalton said.
It likely began long before UL-Lafayette senior softball utility standout Lexie Comeaux ever realized it.
The Redhawks (45-17) tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth when Rachel Anderson tripled off the wall with two outs and first base open after a visit to the circle.
“No (didn’t talk coaches into pitching to her),” said the supremely confident Ellyson. “We didn’t want to give her anything she could hit and she just got lucky.”
Dalton’s big day was spiced on the very next pitch as well when Ashley Ellis crushed a potential go-ahead liner that UL’s shortstop leaped and snagged.
“It’s just having Summer’s back,” Dalton said. “If you have a pitcher like Summer, who can keep a team under two runs almost every single game, you just have to do what you’ve got to do to have her back. That’s all you can ask of a pitcher. She’s not going to be perfect. She’s not to throw every single pitch with the perfect spot and get everybody out.”
That set the stage for Comeaux’s late-game heroics. Dalton led off the inning with a single, advanced on Raina O’Neal’s hit and scored on a clutch two-out single to left for the game-winning run.
From day one, it was never a secret why UL softball coach Gerry Glasco brought senior outfielder Keeli Milligan to the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“I just felt really calm,” Comeaux said of the at-bat. “I didn’t have the best at-bats before I got the hit. I knew my team needed me in that moment and it didn’t need to be a home run.
“A lot of times when the moment’s that big, you just want to crush the ball and hit a home run. But I knew I just needed to get a base hit, so I just shortened up on the bat and wanted to attack anything that was coming over the plate.”
Perhaps start of another big regional for Comeaux, who hit .438 with two homers and five RBIs in last year’s Baton Rouge regional.
“This is my favorite time of the year,” Comeaux said. “I don’t know what it is about regionals, but I just get so relaxed and ready to play the game. I think it’s because we feel the more prepared by the end of the year. You start preparing for regionals in September.”
Comeaux’s big hit put the Cajuns in their favorite position, trusting Ellyson to take them home.
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A catcher’s interference call gave the Redhawks a free base to open the frame, but Ellyson struck out the side to end the game with Anderson in the on-deck circle.
“I start every inning with the mindset that I’m going at them,” said Ellyson, who improved to 38-4 on the season after allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and 13 strikeouts. “The (catcher’s) interference meant nothing to me. I just knew I had to get my defense to make plays behind me. It just so happened that they were strikeouts.
The head coach part of UL softball coach Gerry Glasco was elated with how his No. 7-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns won each game in the Sun Belt Confere…