In an action-packed finish to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament winner’s bracket final on Friday at the Troy Softball Complex, it was No. 14 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball capitalizing on presented opportunities that made the difference in a 4-3 win over Texas State.
As a result, Louisiana (43-10) advanced to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. championship game – the program’s seventh consecutive appearance in the title game, and 19th overall in 21 editions of the Sun Belt’s postseason event. The Ragin’ Cajuns will face the survivor of the tournament’s final elimination game which will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning, it was the hustle of Justice Milz that forced an errant throw on the would-be final out of the frame that changed Louisiana’s fortune. The misplay allowed Ciara Bryan, who led off the inning with her third hit of the day, to cross home plate and even the score.
Milz moved to second base on the throw and was immediately driven home when Julie Rawls deposited a single into right field, giving Louisiana the lead for good at 3-2.
With the lead back in hand, Summer Ellyson turned in the key moment of her relief effort when she retired the Bobcats (38-11) in order in the bottom of the sixth inning and prevented a response.
Freshman Sophie Piskos gave Ellyson and the Ragin’ Cajuns valuable insurance in the seventh inning when she drove an RBI double to the wall in left center increasing the lead to 4-2. Piskos’ moment was set up by a wild pitch on a strikeout that allowed the speedy Jenna Kean to enter as a pinch runner.
Texas State made a last-minute attempt at prolonging the game when a two-out solo home run from Tara Oltmann closed the gap to 4-3, but Ellyson fanned Sara Vanderford end the Bobcats’ hopes.
The two teams played to a scoreless stalemate through the first four innings before a two-out RBI single by Louisiana’s Kendall Talley in the fifth inning sparked the offenses.
The Bobcats briefly held the lead after a two-out, two-run single by Hailey MacKay in the bottom of the fifth, only to have it slip away by the costly defensive miscue the next frame.
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