May 23, 2010

BATON ROUGE, La. - A complete team effort secured Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns softball team a spot at the NCAA Super Regionals after the Cajuns downed Texas A&M, 6-1, at Tiger Park on Sunday in the Baton Rouge Regional Championship.

The Cajuns put on a hitting clinic, rattling off 14 hits, including a three-run home run by Gabriele Bridges. Eight Cajuns recorded a hit in the win with Vallie Gaspard, Melissa Verde, Nerissa Myers and Bridges boasting multi-hit performances. For the day, UL posted at least two hits in each inning.

For effort, Bridges was tabbed the Baton Rouge Regional's Most Valuable Player honors. For the weekend, the junior first baseman hit .444. She had four hits, three of which went for extra bases, a slugging percentage of 1.222. She racked up six RBI in nine at bats against the competition

But not to be out done by the offensive effort, Brittany Cuevas was stellar in the circle. In the complete game victory, the senior hurler allowed just four hits and forced the Aggies into 12 ground outs. She struck out three, including the final out, to improve to 22-7 this season.

Because of her pitching prowess, Cuevas was named to the All-Regional Tournament Team. Joining Bridges and Cuevas with all-tournament selections were Donna Bourgeois, Gaspard and Myers.

The Cajuns now sit at 45-16 and will play the winner of the Los Angeles Regional, either UCLA or Fresno State.

Early base hits by Vallie Gaspard and Christi Orgeron primed the Cajuns for their first scoring opportunity in the opening inning. A ground out by Bridges advanced the runners but a line out ended the frame without a run crossing the plate.

The Aggies had an opportunity of their own after putting runners on the corners with a walk, a hit and a fielder's choice. But Brittany Cuevas forced a ground out back to the pitcher's circle.

The Cajuns put runners in scoring position again in the second inning starting after a one-out on a single by Britni Soria. The freshman moved over to third after Kelly Cormier reached first on an error. Cormier took second on an uncontested stolen base, but the Cajuns left the runs off the scoreboard after a strikeout and a groundout.

For the third straight inning, UL placed runners in scoring position with one out. Orgeron drew a walk and Bridges singled. Lana Bowers looked to clear the bases but the fly ball came up short of the warning track in left field for the second out. Nerissa Myers followed with a single to load the bases but a force out at third quashed UL's threat.

The Cajuns defense, however, held strong. Cuevas and company retired seven-straight Aggies, starting with the last out of the first inning.

In the top of the fourth, A&M called in a pitching change with Rebecca Arbino taking over for Melissa Dumezich. But the Cajuns were unaffected, with Cormier drawing a lead-off walk. Gaspard then reached base on a one-out walk, battling back from a 0-2 count. Verde then cracked the score in favor of UL with a single to left field, allowing Cormier to score. The lead then widen to 4-0 when Bridges hit her second home run of the regional, a towering blast to left field. It was her 17th home run of the year and second multi-run homer against the Aggies this weekend. In the first game against Texas A&M, Bridges belted a two-run shot in the first inning as UL cruised to a 5-0 win.

Meagan May snapped the Cajuns' 26-inning scoreless streak with a solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning. The last opponent to cross the plate against the Cajuns' was Louisiana-Monroe in the Sun Belt Tournament. But after the fourth inning, it was still Cajuns 4, Texas A&M 1.

The Aggies reentered Dumezich in the fifth, but for the fifth straight inning UL put multiple runners on base. With one out, Soria got a free pass on a walk and Cormier laid down a bunt to take first base. After a force out at third, Gaspard slapped a blooper to shallow left field and Cormier recorded the Cajuns' fifth run.

The hits kept coming as UL put more runners on base after back-to-back, two-out singles from Bowers and Myers in the top of the sixth inning.

One more insurance run crossed the plate for UL after a two-out double by Verde scored Gaspard. Gaspard reached base after recording her third hit on the afternoon.