GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 24-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball team split its final two games of the Bubly Invitational on Sunday, March 12 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, getting all the offense needed in a 3-2 win over Mercer in the third inning but seeing its five-game win streak snapped by No. 12 Florida’s big innings in an 11-2 (5 inn.) defeat.
The early morning doubleheader for Louisiana, which began at 8:00 a.m. (CDT), started off with the Ragin’ Cajuns and Mercer generating all of the game’s run in one inning and pitching and defense ruling the other six frames.
Scoreless after two complete innings of play, it was Lauren Allred’s two-out, bases-loaded single to center field that led to Louisiana pushing across three runs in the top of the third inning to end the stalemate.
Mercer answered back in the bottom of the third by taking advantage of a pair of Ragin’ Cajuns miscues to make it 3-2. Sam Landry was able to get a strikeout looking with a runner in scoring position to end the Bears’ response and preserve the lead.
The Cajuns hitters were held in check by Mercer pitchers Katie Rearley and Grace Taylor to give their offense a chance, but Louisiana countered with another stellar relief effort from Kandra Lamb closed the game with 3-2/3 innings of one-hit softball and six strikeouts to secure the victory.
Lamb, who was credited with the win, for all intents and purposes saved the game for Louisiana after entering the game in the fourth inning with runners on second and third base and only one out and proceeding to induce back-to-back infield pop ups. From there, the Bears would not advance a runner past first base without benefit of a hit the rest of the way.
After a quick turnaround, the rematch with the Gators began with a familiar script with neither team scoring in the first inning and Meghan Schorman extending her string of consecutive scoreless innings pitched against the hosts to eight straight.
The Gators, though, were the first to make a move this time around as Pal Egan launched a two-run home run two batters into the second inning to finally break Schorman’s stranglehold.
Florida (18-4) later loaded the bases and Louisiana (18-9) appeared to limit the damage as Karly Heath induced a two-out infield pop fly. The ball, though, drifted back into fair territory and fell down on a misplay allowing the Gators to tack on two additional runs for a 4-0 edge.
After starting pitcher Elizabeth Hightower notched a third consecutive scoreless inning, effectively keeping momentum in Florida’s dugout, the Gators played long ball in the bottom of the third inning getting a two-run home run from Katie Kistler and grand slam from Olivia Giganteas part of a seven-run inning that stretched the lead to 11-0.
The Ragin’ Cajuns battled back in the fourth inning getting a solo home run from Allred and double from Stormy Kotzelnick that set up an RBI ground out to get on the board and make it 11-2. Then in the fifth inning, Louisiana had runners on the corners with a chance to extend the contest before Alexa Langeliers’ two-out fly to shallow center field was tracked down for the game-ending out.
Allred paced the Ragin’ Cajuns offensive efforts on the day, collecting a combined three RBI over the two games to increase her run production in the month of March to double digits, now at 11 RBI. Since March 1, Allred is batting .429 (9-of-21) with a double, triple, three home runs and the 11 RBI.
The win over Mercer moved Louisiana to a season-high 10 games above .500 and improved the squad to 8-5 in neutral site games (won last seven on a neutral field). Florida spoiled the Cajuns’ bid at a sweep of the Bubly Invitational and prevented the team from setting a new season-best mark for a winning streak.
Despite falling in the final game played in the Bubly Invitational, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished 4-1 in the event while recording three Power 5 wins, pitching three shutouts (including No. 12 Florida) and turning in a streak of 23-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
No. 24 Louisiana opens Sun Belt Conference play from Friday-Sunday, March 17-19 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi taking on conference newcomer Southern Miss in a three-game series at the USM Softball Complex.
Play with the Golden Eagles starts Friday at 5:00 p.m., continues Saturday at 2:00 p.m., then concludes on Sunday at 12:00 p.m.
All three games of the Sun Belt Opening Weekend series are scheduled to air live on ESPN+, while radio coverage is being provided by 103.3 FM The Goat and the Varsity Network.
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