MOBILE, Ala. – The No. 22-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball team captured the program’s third consecutive Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship, and 17th overall in the 22-year history of the event, with a 7-1 win over Texas State on Saturday, May 14 at Jaguar Field in Mobile.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (45-11) ended a 1-all stalemate in the fifth inning and broke free from the Bobcats (38-19) by using four home runs to generate six runs. The loud hits came off the bats of Stormy Kotzelnick, Alexa Langeliers, Jourdyn Campbell and Karly Heath.
From there, Sam Landry finished off the 4-1/3 consecutive scoreless innings that she pitched after re-entering the game in the third inning.
The win stretched Louisiana’s season-high winning streak to 13 games and was the squad’s 22nd win in the past 23 games (since April 8).
Louisiana claimed the Sun Belt’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, securing the program’s 23rd consecutive appearance and 31st overall in the event which begins with the regional round from Friday-Sunday, May 20-22 at campus sites.
The field of 64 teams will be announced on Sunday, May 15 at 6:00 p.m. (CDT) on ESPN2.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Louisiana took a lead just three batters into the contest as back-to-back hits from Kotzelnick and Raina O’Neal set up a sacrifice fly from Langeliers.
The Ragin’ Cajuns carried the lead into the third inning largely due to Kandra Lamb working out of a no-outs, bases-loaded situation she inherited in the first inning. An unassisted double play turned off of a line drive by Campbell was the key play to turning the Bobcats away.
Texas State drew even in the bottom of the third inning when Caitlyn Rogers delivered a two-out RBI single. Landry re-entered the game and collected the final out to end the rally.
Both Landry and Jessica Mullins retired the side in order in the fourth inning as the tightly contested play from Friday continued to carry over.
Momentum would change quickly, in favor of Louisiana, in the fifth inning when Kotzelnick ignited the home run parade with a two-run shot for a 3-1 edge. After O’Neal drew a walk, Langeliers greeted reliever Karsen Pierce with a two-run shot of her own to expand the advantage to 5-1.
Solo shots from Campbell and Heath followed before the Bobcats could escape the onslaught.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BOX SCORE
The go-ahead home run blast highlighted a multi-hit effort from Kotzelnick (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI). She increased her season RBI total to 49, leaving her one shy of being the first Ragin’ Cajun this season to reach 50 RBI.
Langeliers (1-for-3, SF, HR, 3 RBI) was the game’s leading run producer. She joined Heath in upping her season team-leading home run total to 13, and joined Kotzelnick in reaching the 40-RBI mark (now up to 42 RBI).
The three RBI from Langeliers matched O’Neal (vs. Troy) for the most by a Ragin’ Cajun during the week in Mobile. The duo finished with a team-high five RBI in the event.
O’Neal’s base hit in the first inning was her team-leading sixth of the SBC Tournament. She finished with a .500 average (6-for-12) and was named the Most Outstanding Player.
Kayla Falterman (3-for-3) delivered a base hit in all three of her plate appearances. She singled right in front of Kotzlenick as the fifth-inning scoring spree got underway.
Landry (4.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K) was credited with the 20th win over her collegiate debut season. After returning to the game she retired the side in order twice (fourth and seventh inning) and induced the ground ball outs that prevented Texas State from ever getting a runner to third base.
THIS ‘N THAT
- Louisiana improved to 69-9 (.885) all-time in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Ragin’ Cajuns remained undefeated (11-0) in tournament games played in Mobile.
- For the third time under the guidance of Gerry Glasco the Ragin’ Cajuns swept the Sun Belt Conference’s regular season and tournament titles.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns have claimed the SBC Tournament title all three instances the event has been held in Mobile: 2010, 2016, 2022.
- Louisiana was represented on the Sun Belt Conference Tournament’s All-Tournament team by Alexa Langeliers, Meghan Schorman and Raina O’Neal (Most Outstanding Player).