McNeese State went toe-to-toe with the No. 12 team in the nation for 61⁄2 innings Wednesday night at Cowgirl Diamond.
The trouble for the Cowgirls was they were the 61⁄2 innings spent trying to catch up to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns (8-1) used a four-run first inning to put away McNeese, 5-1.
“It totally takes away from your strategy when you’re down 4-0 early,” said Cowgirls coach Mike Smith. “We’re not like them. We don’t hit the long ball. So now you’ve got to try to manufacture runs.”
McNeese starter Bianca Lilly (1-2) lasted one-third of an inning after allowing a solo home run to Brianna Cherry, then a three-run blast by Shellie Landry.
Freshman reliever Jamie Allred helped keep a game that seemed destined for run-rule status respectable.
Allred struck out 10 Cajuns and allowed a run on seven hits in 62⁄3 innings.
“What a way to come in and face a top-15 team and throw like that,” Smith said. “I’m proud of what Jamie did coming in.”
"She also got some help from her defense.
McNeese (8-5) had a pair of assists from its outfield, with left fielder Lauren Langner and right fielder Victoria Rich each gunning down a ULL base runner.
“We’ve really worked hard with them on accuracy,” Smith said. “Maybe the scouting report will be ‘Don’t run on McNeese,’ and that’s a good thing for our pitchers.”
"Langner also did well in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-4 with a double and scoring McNeese’s lone run in the bottom of the first when Katie Roux was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“I wasn’t getting much inside, so I was looking out and finally got a hold of one,” Langner said. “We’ve been practicing picking a location and sticking with it.”
However, the Cowgirls weren’t able to muster much else against ULL pitcher Jordan Wallace (6-0), who struck out 13.
Rich was the only other Cowgirl to get a hit, an infield single in the first.
“Langner’s done a good job at the top of the lineup. We need to get some more production from the middle of the lineup and the bottom,” Smith said. “She’s a pitcher who is going to be around the strike zone, so we’ve got to hit. She’s going to make a mistake somewhere. They capitalized on our mistakes.”