Courtesy of Nick Ross
BATON ROUGE, LA. – Jordan Wallace won the battle of two-hitters with LSU’s Rachele Fico as the Ragin’ Cajuns used homeruns from Brianna Cherry and Sara Corbello to topple the top-seeded Tigers, 3-0, on Saturday afternoon in an NCAA Regional game at Tiger Park.
Louisiana (45-13) improves to 5-0 all-time at Tiger Park and advances to the regional championship. They will need to win just one of two possible games to advance to next week’s NCAA Super-Regional vs. the winner from the Ann Arbor Regional.
LSU (41-15) will face the winner of Saturday afternoon’s Northwestern State vs. Central Connecticut State game at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday night. The winner will face Louisiana in the regional championship game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.
“When you get into this environment and the level of competition is this high, one pitch, one swing, one play, makes the difference between victory and defeat,” Head Coach Michael Lotief said in the post-game press conference. “That was a great college softball game and I am so proud of my kids.”
The Cajuns drew first blood in the first. After Nerissa Myers coaxed a walk to lead off the game, Cherry made it 2-0 when she crushed an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left center. It was her 13th homerun of the season and gave her 53 RBIs on the year.
“We had an understanding of what she was going to give us,” Cherry said of her first-inning home run. “I came up not really looking for a certain pitch but to put myself in the best possible position to be successful for us.”
The run allowed Myers to move into 20th place on the NCAA Division I career chart with 241 runs scored.
After retiring the first nine batters to start the game, Wallace had to pitch out of a jam in the second. A.J. Andrews lined a double off the glove of Myers to open the fourth but Wallace got Jacee Blades to fly out to left and Bianka Bell to fly to center. A two-out walk to Allison Falcoln put runners at first and second but Wallace struck out Sandra Simmons to end the inning.
LSU starter Rachele Fico (24-12) settled down after the homerun, retiring 19 of the next 21 batters to hold the Cajuns in check. She allowed just a two-out walk to Leandra Maly in the second and Cherry reached on a fielding error in the third.
The Cajuns added an insurance run with two outs in the seventh when Sara Corbello crushed a line drive homerun just inside the left field foul pole to make it a 3-0 game. It was the seventh homer of the year for the Cajuns freshman and her 33rd RBI.
Wallace needed just 106 pitches to throw her second straight shutout of the regional. She threw a complete game one-hitter in a 3-0 win voer Northwestern State on Friday.
On Saturday, Wallace struck out 10, walked one and hit a batter to lower her ERA to 1.76. She became the first Cajuns pitcher since Ashley Brignac won 32 games in 2011 to win 30 games in a season. With one more win in 2013, Wallace will enter a four-way tie for the fifth-highest wins in a season.
“These games are all going to be 1-0, of 2-0,” Wallace said after her second straight shutout. “Getting ahead early is what we strive for and that gave us a boost of confidence right there, we knew we could come out successful.”
The 10 strikeouts raised her season total to 352, the second-highest single season total in school history.
The Cajuns will now wait to see who they face tomorrow afternoon with a trip to the Super Regionals on the line. The winner of tomorrow’s championship game will face the winner of the Ann Arbor Regional in the Super Regionals.