May 10, 2014 10:42 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - With a pair of runners on base and no outs in the top of the sixth inning, Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns senior Shelbi Redfearn gave the Cajuns a three-run lead with one swing of the bat, snapping a 1-1 tie and helping lead the Cajuns their 12th Sun Belt Tournament crown with a 4-1 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars on Saturday at Lamson Park.
The Cajuns (44-8-1) earned a berth to their 24th NCAA Tournament, with their first tournament title since 2011. The Cajuns will now await their placement in the 2014 NCAA Softball Tournament, which will be announced Sunday, March 11 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. The Cajuns will be making their 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regionals, dating back to 1999.
Junior pitcher Christina Hamilton (24-2) earned the win for the Cajuns, allowing one run on six hits and one walk.
Freshman Haley Hayden put a run on the board for the Cajuns in the first inning, when she belted her 15th home run of the season off USA starter Farish Beard (21-6) giving Louisiana a 1-0 lead. The Cajuns threatened again in the first inning, loading the bases, but couldn't get anything else across.
South Alabama responded in their half of the first, playing as the home team. Blair Johnson hit a two-out double and Chloe Rathburn drove her in with a double in the next at-bat, knotting the score at one.
The Cajuns got two more runners on base in the second with a walk to Kelsey Vincent and a single by Natalie Fernandez, but Beard responded with a strikeout and a flyout to end the inning.
The Jaguars placed two runners on base with one out in the second, but Fernandez got the Cajuns out of the inning with a dazzling 4-3 double play, grabbing a hard grounder by USA's Stephanie Pilkington and getting to the bag in time for a quick throw to first base to end the inning.
Both pitchers settled in after that, to combine for four scoreless innings.
Beard sent down 11 batters in a row coming into the sixth inning, but three pitches later the Ragin' Cajuns had a 4-1 lead. Walsh and Landry each singled on the first pitch they saw and then Redfearn made it hurt, chasing Beard with her 13th home run of the season.
The Jaguars got two runners on base with no outs in the sixth but Hamilton got a fly ball to left field that advanced each runner a base, putting two runners in scoring position with one out.
Amanda Minahan, who hit the seventh-inning home run in the Jaguars' 4-2 win over the Cajuns on Friday, hit a fly ball to right field, deep enough to score Kaitlyn Griffith from third base and cut the lead to 4-2, but after the Cajuns appealed to third base, Griffith was called out for leaving early to end the inning.
Hannah Campbell retired the first two Cajuns in the seventh inning as rain began to fall around Lamson Park before Lexie Elkins hit a double to the left-center gap. The teams were eventually pulled off the field as the rains picked up, sending the game into an hour-long rain delay.
Campbell came back from the delay with a quick strikeout, bringing the Jaguars up to bat in the bottom of the seventh with one last chance to rally.
A lead-off double by Alex Breeden was followed by a fly-out to center field, for the first out of the game. Moss then hit a single that shortstop Corin Voinché kept in the infield with a diving stop, holding Breeden at second base.
Hamilton forced a ground out next that advanced the runners to second and third, but Hamilton picked the right time of the game to get her first strikeout, fanning Pilkington with a rise ball and giving the Cajuns their 12th Sun Belt Tournament title in school history.
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