Wallace fires one-hitter, strikes out 11 as La.-Lafayette beats Northwestern State
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Jordan Wallace struck out 11 in throwing a complete game one-hitter for her 29th win of the season as second-seeded Louisiana toppled third-seeded Northwestern State 3-0 in the Baton Rouge Regional on Friday at LSU’s Tiger Park.
The game marked the 15th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship for Louisiana-Lafayette, the sixth-longest active streak in the nation, while the Cajuns' 23 all-time appearances are eighth best in NCAA history.
Louisiana-Lafayette (44-13) will now play top-seeded LSU (38-13) at 1 p.m. ET Saturday.
“I’m proud of my kids fighting adversity. These kids have worked hard and have made a lot of sacrifice for the program,” Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Michael Lotief said. “We’re not going to spend a lot of time looking too far forward or too far back, but we will enjoy the moment.”
Staked to a 1-0 lead after the first inning, Wallace took over. She allowed her only hit of the game in the second inning, a two-out hit by Jordan Palmer. Her 11 strikeouts raised her season total to 353, tying Brooke Mitchell for second place on the Louisiana-Lafayette single-season strikeout list. In two seasons, Wallace now has 509 strikeouts.
“[Wallace] has a tremendous heart, tremendous will and is a tremendous competitor,” Lotief said. “Who knows what is going to happen [Saturday], but she is going to come to fight.”
“It took me a few innings to figure out the strike zone. Every team we play comes in with a plan and [NSU] took me to a lot of full counts,” Wallace said. “We are taking every game step-by-step and we’re going to do whatever we can to win it. We know in the postseason that there will be a lot of one-run games and to get a run in the first inning gives the team a boost.”
The Cajuns used a pair of defensive miscues in right field and a bases-load walk to take a 1-0 lead in the first.
Louisiana-Lafayette made it 2-0 in the fourth. With runners on first and second and two out, Sarah Draheim lined a single just over the glove of Northwestern State second baseman Calli Burke and into right-center, allowing Nerissa Myers to score from second base. It was the team-leading 64th RBI of the year for Draheim.
Myers, who also scored the first-inning run, moved into 21st on the NCAA Division I career chart with 240 runs scored, an ongoing school record.
“We played the game relaxed [Friday] and we went in attacking. We went in just trusting the process. I trust my teammates and the people behind me,” Myers said. “We expect every game to be tight. We want to score runs and let our pitcher know that we have her back. We play offense pitch-by-pitch just like we do on defense.”
Wallace pitched her way out of a jam in the fifth. Northwestern State had runners at second and third with one out following back-to-back walks to Jordan Palmer and Abby Shenequia to open the inning and a sacrifice bunt to Tara McKenney.
Burke tried to bunt the first run in but Wallace fielded it several feet in front of the plate and adeptly fired it to Draheim who blocked the plate and tagged Palmer to record the out.
Brianna Rodriguez ended the threat with a harmless ground out to second.
The Cajuns closed out their scoring in the bottom of the sixth when Shellie Landry lined a single off the glove of third baseman Cassandra Barefield, allowing pinch-runner Meagan Thomas to score.
Myers finished the game with two hits along with her two runs, going 2-for-4 in the game. Landry joined her with two hits, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The win improves the Cajuns’ record at Tiger Park to 4-0, after sweeping the 2010 Baton Rouge Regional.