In baseball or softball, the most runs a team can score on one swing of the bat is four.
UL’s softball team knows that amount well.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, thanks to two more of those swings on Saturday, are on their way to Championship Sunday in the NCAA Softball Regional Tournament at Lamson Park.
Nerissa Myers and Matte Haack both had grand-slam homers in Saturday’s opening game of the three-day event, providing all the runs the Cajuns needed in a 9-3 victory over second-seeded Stanford for their second win of the event.
The win puts UL (51-4) into Sunday’s play as the unbeaten team, and whoever survives Saturday’s other two elimination games will have to beat the Cajuns twice in order to advance to next weekend’s Super Regional round.
Myers cleared the bases in the second inning for an early 4-0 lead off Cardinal pitcher Teagan Gerhart (31-12), and two innings later Haack also got into grand-slam action with a bases-loaded homer that made it 8-0 at the time.
The Cajuns now have 12 grand slams as a team this year, part of their 70 the team has this season, and those two took much of the life out of the Cardinal (39-18) even though Stanford avoided a run-rule loss on Jenna Rich’s three-run homer in the fifth.
That was all the runs that Cajun freshman Jordan Wallace allowed, though, as she improved to 26-1 and helped UL go to 51-4 this year – and to within one win of advancing.
“I was happy that the team had my back,” Wallace said of the home-run attack. “I knew this game would be a fight, but I knew that they were here and ready to play.”
Other than the three-run homer, Stanford only advanced one other runner as far as third base off the freshman.
“She’s 26-1 so she’s not really a freshman any more,” said Stanford coach John Rittman, “although this is a bigger stage than she’s pitched on all year, pitching in her first regional. She did a good job today of keeping us off balance and getting the big out, because we had some opportunities.”
The opportunity is there for the Cajuns with Saturday’s win. They’ll face whoever comes out of Saturday’s Stanford-Baylor finale and will be the unbeaten team going to Sunday’s final day. That means the Cajuns can wrap it up in the 1 p.m. game, or can win a second “if-necessary” game … either one will send them to the NCAA’s softball Sweet 16.
It’s a sure bet that another huge crowd will be on hand at Lamson Park Sunday. After Friday’s two games drew a nation-leading 4,732 fans (the next-highest mark was the 3,836 drawn in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Alabama regional), another 2,476 were on hand for UL’s opening-game win Saturday.
“Our fan base came out and was really excited and created a great environment and set a tone for us,” said UL co-head coach Michael Lotief. “And I thought our kids came out and responded… they came out and answered the challenge.”