BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It took a while for the hitting to get untracked, but UL’s ninth-ranked softball team used a late offensive surge to beat Jacksonville State 8-2 in their repeatedly delayed season opener Saturday.
The Ragin’ Cajuns scored six runs in the final two innings in their opening game in the UAB Green and Gold Classic, beginning a stretch that will see UL (1-0) play 12 games in a nine-day stretch.
The Cajuns had their Louisiana Classics tournament weathered out last weekend and had a Tuesday doubleheader at Lamar postponed until April because of frigid conditions and travel issues. Weather also wiped out Friday’s opening day of the UAB-hosted tournament.
“I was thinking about that last night,” Cajuns coach Gerry Glasco said. “We’ve had 40 regular-season games canceled since the last time we played, the last 32 last year and eight so far this year. Forty games is a long wait, so it felt absolutely great to play against anybody.”
UL, which started 18-6 in the 2020 season before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped it out, faced the host Blazers in a late Saturday game and will play two more games in the four-team tournament Sunday against Southeastern Louisiana at 10 a.m. and UAB again at 3 p.m.
The Cajuns scratched across single runs in the first two innings Saturday in support of sophomore starter Kandra Lamb (1-0), making her first start in two seasons. The Australian native gave up only two hits — neither of which went more than 30 feet — while fanning three and walking three in 4-2/3 innings.
“She’s got tremendous potential,” Glasco said of Lamb. “She worked really hard last year as a redshirt, and she’s really improved especially with her velocity. She really had only one pitch working today, her riseball, but she’s a three-pitch pitcher and when she starts to throw all three of those effectively, and she will, she’ll be a really special pitcher.”
UL used three pitchers to record the final seven outs, including staff ace Summer Ellyson who came on to record a strikeout and end a Gamecocks threat in the sixth inning.
That was before the Cajuns blew it open with a four-run seventh, including Taylor Roman’s two-run homer and a two-run single by senior returning All-American Alissa Dalton, who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
Dalton scored an unearned run after a game-opening single in the first, and her sacrifice fly one inning later plated Bailey Curry for a 2-0 lead off Jacksonville State starter Reagan Watkins (0-1).
The Gamecocks (0-3) used two walks and two infield singles to cut the margin to 2-1 in the fourth, but UL made it 4-1 in the sixth on a double steal and Ciara Bryan’s RBI single before the seventh-inning eruption.
“The one thing I’m disappointed in is we had chances in the first and second innings,” said Glasco, whose team had 13 hits but left 10 runners stranded. "Even though we scored, we need to do better in those situations. We had an opportunity to maybe put the game away in those first two innings, and we didn’t do that.”