May 18, 2013 8:10 AM by UL Sports Information
BATON ROUGE, LA. - Jordan Wallace struck out 11 in throwing a complete game one-hitter for her 29th win of the season as second-seeded Louisiana toppled third-seeded Northwestern State, 3-0, on Friday afternoon at LSU's Tiger Park.
The game marked the 15th straight appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship, the sixth-longest active streak in the nation, while the Cajuns 23 all-time appearances are 8th-best in NCAA history.
Louisiana (44-13) will now play the winner of Friday nights No. 4 Central Connecticut State (36-18) vs. top-seeded LSU (38-13) at 12:00 noon on Saturday. A victory would advance Louisiana into the championship game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. A loss would send the Cajuns to an elimination game at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
"I'm proud of my kids fighting adversity. These kids have worked hard and have made a lot of sacrifice for the program," said Head Coach Michael Lotief. "We're not going to spend a lot of time looking too far forward or too far back, but we will enjoy the moment."
Staked to a 1-0 lead after the first inning, Wallace took over. She allowed her only hit of the game in the second inning, a two out hit by Jordan Palmer. Her 11 strikeouts raised her season total to 353, tying Brooke Mitchell for second place on the Louisiana single season strikeout list. In two seasons, Wallace now has 509 strikeouts.
"[Wallace] has a tremendous heart, tremendous will and is a tremendous competitor," Lotief said of Wallace. "Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow, but she is going to come to fight."
"It took me a few innings to figure out the strike zone. Every team we play comes in with a plan and [NSU] took me to a lot of full counts," Wallace said. "We are taking every game step-by-step and we're going to do whatever we can to win it. We know in the postseason that there will be a lot of one-run games and to get a run in the first inning gives the team a boost."
The Cajuns used a pair of defensive miscues in right field to take a 1-0 lead in the first.
Nerissa Myers opened the bottom of the frame with a sinking line drive to right field and the Northwestern State right fielder hesitated on before charging, allowing the ball to drop about a foot in front of her for a single.
Brianna Cherry followed with a looping fly ball down the right field line that was misjudged and the ball glanced off a fielders glove for a single.
After Kylie Roos retired both Sarah Draheim and Matte Haack, she walked Shellie Landry to load the bases and Sara Corbello drew a walk to score Myers.
Louisiana made it 2-0 in the fourth. With runners on first and second and two out, Draheim lined a single just over the glove of Northwestern State second baseman Calli Burke and into right center, allowing Myers to score from second base. It was the team-leading 64th RBI of the year for Draheim.
The two runs scored by Myers allowed her to move into 21st on the NCAA Division I career chart with 240, an ongoing school record.
"We played the game relaxed today and we went in attacking. We went in just trusting the process. I trust my teammates and the people behind me," said Myers. "We expect every game to be tight. We want to score runs and let our pitcher know that we have her back. We play offense pitch-by-pitch just like we do on defense."
Wallace pitched her way out of a jam in the fifth. Northwestern State had runners at second and third with one out following back-to-back walks to Jordan Palmer and Abby to open the inning and a sacrifice bunt to Tara McKenney.
Burke tried to bunt the first run in but Wallace fielded it several feet in front of the plate and adeptly fired it to Draheim who blocked the plate and tagged Palmer to record the out.
Brianna Rodriguez ended the threat with a harmless ground out to second.
The Cajuns closed out their scoring in the bottom of the sixth when Landry lined a single off the glove of third baseman Cassandra Barefield, allowing pinch-runner Meagan Thomas to score.
Myers finished the game with two hits along with her two runs, going 2-for-4 in the game. Shellie Landry joined her with two hits of her own, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The win improves the Cajuns' record at the new Tiger Park to 4-0, after sweeping the 2010 Baton Rouge Regional. They will open up day two of the 2013 regional tomorrow afternoon, when they face the winner of LSU vs. Central Connecticut State University at noon.