Louisiana-Lafayette second baseman Natalie Fernandez is late on the tag allowing McNeese State’s Alanna Divitorrio to steal second base Wednesday at Lamson Park in Lafayette. (Leslie Westbrook / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, April 17, 2014 5:37 PMLAFAYETTE — Just like the schools’ baseball teams a week before, the McNeese State and Louisiana-Lafayette softball teams traded runs until the Ragin’ Cajuns landed the deciding blow.
The No. 17 Ragin’ Cajuns sent the Cowgirls back to Lake Charles on a sour note with a walk-off home run to pull out a 5-4 victory Wednesday night at Lamson Park in Lafayette.
McNeese (30-12) coach Mike Smith said the game played out like a heavyweight fight and whoever got the last chance to score was going to win.
“Are we mad? Absolutely,” Smith said. “It’s an in-state game and we wanted to win that. We played Louisiana Tech, LSU and ULL this year and you want to live that in-state. It stinks, especially when they’re right down the road from you.”
McNeese didn’t show any signs of rivalry jitters, going ahead in the first 1-0 on a sacrifice fly to score Alanna DiVittorio.
ULL (31-7-1) responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run blast by Lexie Elkins, whose 14 home runs this season put her in the top 20 in the nation.
In the third, DiVittorio once again showed off her ability to convert bases into runs, scoring on another sacrifice fly to even the score at 2-2.
“We don’t have to worry about the scoreboard,” DiVittorio said. “Our hits will come and every time we see a pitch, we just try to make a quality at-bat. We won’t ever press, but we never give up on ourselves. We were down but that didn’t matter.”
But Elkins fired right back in the bottom of the third with an RBI double and the Ragin’ Cajuns went back on top 4-2.
That marked the end of the night for McNeese pitcher Rachel Smith, who Smith said got valuable experience against one of the strongest hitting teams in the country.
The Cowgirls looked as if they let their opportunity slip away when they stranded the bases loaded in the fifth inning, but tied the score in the sixth, taking advantage of an error to even it at 4-4.
“I’m proud of these girls,” Smith said. “They fought, they battled; we didn’t panic when we were down 4-2, we came back in the ballgame.”
Jamie Allred pitched solid two innings for the Cowgirls, but took the loss when ULL’s Samantha Walsh launched a walk-off home run to center field.
“They can swing it,” Smith said. “They live and die by that home run. The ball jumps out of here. I think it’s a little bit of a different story if we’re playing at home.”
Smith said he thinks McNeese may get another chance at ULL in NCAA tournament regional play, which the Ragin’ Cajuns might host depending on how the rest of the season plays out.
For now, McNeese will turn its attention to a weekend series at Cowgirl Diamond beginning Friday against Nicholls State.