Team Effort Leads to Win in Sun Belt Tourney

SAN MARCOS, Texas – Four home runs and a three-hit, nine-strikeout performance by Jordan Wallace lifted the 10th-ranked and top-seeded Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns softball team to a 10-2 (6 inn.) win over Georgia State in the team's Sun Belt Conference Tournament opener here Thursday afternoon at Bobcat Softball Stadium.

With the win, No. 1 seed Louisiana (38-8) advances to Friday's 2 p.m., winner's bracket final against the winner of Thursday's nightcap between No. 2 seed South Alabama and No. 6 seed ULM. The Cajuns will be playing for a berth in Saturday's 1 p.m., championship game.

"It was good to get back on the field, it's been a couple of days since the last weekend series," Louisiana softball associate head coach T.J. Hubbard said. "The kids looked ready to go and are prepared to come back to work tomorrow."

The four home runs increased the Ragin' Cajuns season total to 101 as the squad became only the second team in school history to reach 100 home runs joining the 2006 team which hit the current school record of 102.

Lexie Elkins, whose two-run home run in the bottom of the first erased a 1-0 Georgia State lead, posted a game-high four RBI. The home run was her 28th of the season moving her within two of Danyele Gomez's single-season record 30 hit in 2006.

Haley Hayden finished 2-for-4 and drove in three runs on a RBI single in the second inning and two-run home run in the fourth inning. Hayden's home run landed Louisiana's 100th of the season.

Wallace (16-4) clamped down after Elkins' homer provided her the lead, retiring the Panthers (37-21) in order in the second and third inning collecting five strikeouts along the way. She stranded two GSU runners in the fourth and fifth inning, then capped off her victory retiring the side in order in the sixth inning.

"From the very first pitch she established the zone quickly," Hubbard said. "She had one little mishap against (Ivie) Drake, but went right back to work and was commanding the whole game. She was locked in and I look forward to watching her the rest of the weekend."

Louisiana won its Sun Belt Tournament opener for the 14th time the 16-year history of the event. The Ragin' Cajuns improved to 49-7 all-time in the event.

A solo home run by Ivie Drake gave GSU an early, but short-lived, lead in the game's first half inning. It lasted two batters into the Cajuns half of the first inning as Elkins followed up a one-out walk by Shellie Landry with a towering two-run homer down the left field line for a 2-1 Louisiana lead.

As Wallace settled in the Cajuns would score in each ensuing inning to secure the win.

The lead grew to 4-1 on Hayden's RBI single in the second inning and D.J. Sanders' solo home run in the third inning. Hayden's two-run home run highlighted a three-run, fourth inning for Louisiana that stretched the advantage to 7-1.

An RBI single by Drake in the fifth inning plated the Panthers' second run, but the rally was halted as Wallace caught Christy Alford looking at strike three for the final out with runners on the corners.

Back-to-back singles from Leandra Maly and Sanders opened the bottom of the fifth and one-out walk by pinch hitter Sara Corbello set the stage for runs that scored on a passed ball and bases-loaded walk increasing the lead to 9-2.

Kelsey Vincent led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run that brought the lead to the run-rule margin ending the game early.

Taylor Thorpe (17-6) was charged with the loss for Georgia State after allowing three runs in 1-1/3 innings. Chelsea Stanfield yielded seven additional runs in her 3-2/3 innings of relief.

DIAMOND NOTES: Shellie Landry walked four times, becoming the first Cajun since Christi Orgeron at Middle Tennessee on April 15, 2012, to draw at least four walks…Jordan Wallace improved her career record to 89-18, moving within one win of becoming only the fourth pitcher in school history to reach 90 wins joining a list that includes Brooke Mitchell (119), Kyla Hall (104) and Ashley Brignac (94)…Jordan Wallace is eight strikeouts away from reaching 200 for the second time in her career (had 382 as a sophomore in 2013)…Lexie Elkins posted three-plus RBI for the 11th time and picked up her team-best 20th multiple-hit game…Lexie Elkins increased her season RBI total to 72, reaching 70 for the second straight season (had 74 in 2014)…Haley Hayden's 2-for-4 performance marked her team-leading 18th multiple-hit game…Aleah Craighton singled in the second inning to increase her current hitting streak to six games…The Cajuns posted their 26th multiple-home run game have hit multiple home runs in four straight games dating back to the ULM series opener…The Ragin' Cajuns have hit multiple home runs in seven of the last nine games…The Cajuns played error-free for the fourth straight game and 25th time in 46 games…Louisiana registered its 20th run-rule victory of the season (20-2 record)…Louisiana pitching has held opponents to two runs or fewer in 32 of 46 games played (70 percent)…Thursday's game was the Cajuns' first neutral site game of the 2015 season…Louisiana met Georgia State in the Sun Belt Tournament for the first time…The Ragin' Cajuns won their 11th straight in the series with the Panthers and improved to 15-2 all-time vs. GSU.

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