CLEMSON, S.C. – The No. 22-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball team and No. 17 Auburn battled back-and-forth before the Tigers claimed a 4-3 win in the NCAA Clemson Regional opener for both teams.
There were two lead changes in the first inning and a pair of ties before Auburn (40-15) collected the would-be winning tally with a Bri Ellis home run in the sixth inning.
Louisiana (45-12) had its season-best, a 13-game winning streak snapped while the Tigers ended a five-game slide.
Maddie Hayden (3-for-3, double, RBI) shined in her NCAA postseason debut with a three-hit effort.
The Ragin’ Cajuns slipped into the elimination bracket of the NCAA Clemson Regional where they will meet UNCW (32-14) at 2:30 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday, May 21 for the right to remain in the tournament.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Louisiana jumped out in front in the first inning using a leadoff single from Stormy Kotzelnick and aggressive running to set up a sacrifice fly from Jourdyn Campbell.
The Tigers answered in the bottom half when Ellis hit the first of her two home runs in the game, a two-run launch that opened a 2-1 advantage.
Karly Heath and Hayden both doubled in the second inning as the Ragin’ Cajuns forged a 2-all tie. Hayden’s extra bagger came with two outs and provided Louisiana with a quick response.
Auburn pulled ahead in the third inning with aggressive baserunning of its own and a two-out base hit.
Meghan Schorman picked up a pair of strikeouts after a runner reached third base in the fourth inning, preventing the Tigers from creating separation.
A leadoff walk drawn by Laney Credeur allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to break a mid-game foothold that Auburn’s Maddie Penta had in the circle. Hayden followed with another base hit and then Kayla Falterman laid down a sacrifice bunt which led an equalizing run scoring on a wild pitch, evening the score at 3-all.
Three hard-hit balls were caught by the Tigers’ defense preserving the tie before Ellis produced the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BOX SCORE
Hayden picked up her fifth three-hit game of the season and 15th multiple-hit game, overall.
Kotzelnick led off the game with a base hit for the second straight outing (SBC Tournament Championship Game), and once again scored an early tally. The stolen base prior to scoring on Campbell’s sacrifice fly was her 22nd of the season (in 25 attempts).
Heath posted her 20th extra-base hit (out of 30 total) with her double in the second inning.
Schorman struck out six batters and scattered six hits over six innings. She threw 104 pitches and faced six over the minimum.
THIS ‘N THAT
- Louisiana began the program’s 23rd consecutive appearance and 31st appearance overall in the past 32 editions of the NCAA Tournament.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns fell in their NCAA Tournament opener for the first time since 2018.
- Louisiana and Auburn met on the softball field for the first time since the 2015 NCAA Super Regional hosted by the Tigers.
- Louisiana moves to 81-64, overall, all-time in the NCAA Tournament – a total which represents the 13th-most in NCAA history.
- Saturday’s elimination game vs. UNCW will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
Louisiana seeks to continue on in the NCAA Clemson Regional on Saturday, May 21 when the squad meets UNCW in an elimination game that is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. (CDT).
The winner of the contest would return to the field at 5:00 p.m. (CDT) to face the loser of the Auburn-Clemson matchup to determine who advances on to Championship Sunday.
The UNCW game is set to air on ESPN+ with Jenn Hildreth and Carol Bruggeman on the call. A radio broadcast, with commentary from Ian Auzenne and Bobby Neveaux, can be heard in the Acadiana region on ESPN Lafayette 103.3 FM and 1420 AM and worldwide on the ESPN Lafayette app. Live stats can be accessed at CajunStats.com
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