Cajuns Pick Up Series Sweep of UT Arlington

LAFAYETTE – Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton each reached season-high strikeout totals in pacing the No. 7 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns softball team to a 4-1, 8-0 (6 inn.) doubleheader sweep of UT Arlington on Saturday at Lamson Park.

The Ragin' Cajuns (20-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) completed the Sun Belt series sweep of the Mavericks (14-13, 0-3 Sun Belt). Louisiana won the opening game of the series 18-0 (5 inn.) on Friday.

Wallace struck out 16 and allowed a single hit in seven innings in the opening game of the twinbill. The offense struck for three runs in the first inning and followed Wallace's lead the final six innings on the way to securing the series victory.

Hamilton fanned six Mavericks batters in the nightcap, limiting the visitors to just two hits. A pinch-hit single by Sara Corbello with the bases loaded sparked a three spot in the fourth inning that broke open a 1-0 game.

Louisiana extended its current win streak at Lamson Park to 24 games with the sweep. The Cajuns are 17-0 in the facility in 2015.

Wallace reached 16 strikeouts for the second time this season and first since Feb. 13 vs. Mississippi Valley. Hamilton bested her previous season-best four strikeouts vs. Iowa.

"We have pitchers who are able do the things we want them to be able to do – spin the ball, change planes, pitch secondary pitches and keep good hitters off balance," head coach Michael Lotief said. "And you've got a good defense behind them."

The Cajuns offense was balanced in both games. Louisiana saw four different players post RBI in each half of the doubleheader.

"In order to be great you have to get contributions from one through nine and that's what we're trying to get right now," Lotief remarked. "Instead of just picking out the star we need to get to a point where we're getting contributions from everybody every time out."

No. 7 Louisiana continues its current nine-game homestand with a series against Georgia Southern (6-16, 0-3 Sun Belt) set for Monday-Tuesday, March 16-17 at Lamson Park. The series begins with a 6 p.m., single game on Monday followed by a 4 p.m., doubleheader on Tuesday.

Haley Hayden led the Cajuns collecting hits in both games. Hayden ended the day 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Hayden led off the bottom of the first of the opener with a single to right center. She scored after Shellie Landry and Lexie Elkins walked to load the bases and Samantha Walsh delivered a sacrifice fly into left center field.

The Cajuns added two more runs after Corbello was hit by a pitch and D.J. Sanders drew a walk in bases-loaded situations and led 3-0 after one inning.

Wallace clamped down once provided the lead. In each of her final six innings pitched she collected multiple strikeouts including striking out the side in the second and sixth inning.

The Cajuns, who drew 11 walks off UTA starter Kayla Donaldson, took advantage of three walks in the bottom of the third to scratch the fourth and final run. The first of two walks Hayden would draw brought home Aleah Craighton who walked with one out.

Wallace gave up three walks in the top of the fifth and that resulted in the lone run for UTA in the series cutting the Cajuns lead to 4-1. Donaldson kept UTA in the game late by stranding five Cajuns baserunners over the fifth and sixth innings combined.

Louisiana scored in the first inning once again, taking a 1-0 lead in the finale after a misplay on a Walsh single down the right field line allowed Landry to score.

UTA starting pitcher Sam Montes kept the Cajuns off balance in the second and third inning to keep the Mavericks deficit at 1-0 heading to the fourth inning.

The Cajuns gave Hamilton breathing room in the bottom of the fourth starting with Corbello's critical pinch hit with the bases loaded. The single, her first hit of the season, scored Meagan Thomas (pinch hit walk) and Cassidy White (pinch runner) to up the lead to 3-0. Louisiana picked up another run in the inning following a double-steal attempt by Kelli Martinez and Sanders.

"Sara (Corbello) has had some good at bats," Lotief stressed. "She's been hit by pitch, drew walks and has extended pitchers. That kid continues to work hard and she's playing the role that we're asking her to play. That's part of doing the things necessary in order to make a good team great."

UTA picked up the lone two hits off of Hamilton in the top of the fifth. No runs crossed, though, as Landry delivered an outfield assist from left center field to throw out Sandra Mendoza trying to score on a single by Britnea Barilli.

Hayden and Landry delivered RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to 6-0. A double-steal attempt by pinch runner Kendall Smith and Hayden resulted in another run which was followed by Walsh's walk-off single that plated Smith for an 8-0 lead ending the contest early.

Hamilton tossed a complete game for the second straight weekend. Montes, the starting pitcher in Friday night's game, was charged with her second loss of the series.

DIAMOND NOTES: Jordan Wallace picked up career win No. 82, moving her within two wins of tying Melissa Coronado for fourth place in program history...Jordan Wallace moved within three strikeouts of becoming just the fifth pitcher in program history to amass 800 career strikeouts…Christina Hamilton improved to 17-1 all-time in Sun Belt Conference play and extended her undefeated streak in games started in league play to 16 games (dates back to 2011)…Louisiana scored first in all three games of the UTA series, improving to 19-1 when scoring first…Cajuns batters drew 15 walks in the doubleheader and finished the series with 21 total walks against six strikeouts…Cajuns pitching limited the Mavericks, who entered the series hitting .367, to a .086 average over three games…In 10 appearances at Lamson Park in 2015, Jordan Wallace has surrendered only 10 hits over 49 innings pitched…For the season, Jordan Wallace has allowed just 26 hits over 71-2/3 innings covering 14 appearances…As a staff, Cajuns pitching has allowed just 41 hits to opponents through 105 innings pitched inside Lamson Park…Haley Hayden and Lexie Elkins tied for the team lead with five hits in the UT Arlington series…Louisiana has outscored opponents 151-8 over 17 games at Lamson Park in 2015…The Cajuns hit no home runs in the doubleheader, marking only the third and fourth time in 23 games that team finished a game without a home run…Louisiana swept UTA for the second straight season, improving to 6-0 in Sun Belt games against the Mavericks…The Cajuns now lead the all-time series with UT Arlington 19-4 (8-2 in Lafayette).

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