Walk-off walk lifts La.-Lafayette past Texas and into regional final
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Sara Corbello drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning, to finalize the No. 6 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns seventh-inning comeback and defeat the Texas Longhorns, 3-2, in the NCAA Lafayette Regional on Saturday.
It was the Cajuns' (46-8-1) fourth walk-off victory in the last month, advancing them to their seventh consecutive NCAA Regional Championship game.
"We played the way that we have played all year, today," said head coach Michael Lotief. "This team hasn't quit fighting and never quit believing. I thought we were right where we wanted to be. You could see the stage being set for us getting to the heart of the lineup coming up for the last time."
Christina Hamilton (26-2) got the win, tossing the complete game, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits and two walks, while fanning two batters.
Texas initiated the scoring in the top of the third inning, benefiting from a leadoff single by Stephanie Wong. Wong moved around the bases with a stolen base and an error, before scoring on a groundout. The ground-out would end the inning when the Cajuns threw out a second runner attempting to advance, but not after Wong crossed the plate.
The Cajuns responded in their half of the inning, loading the bases with a pair of singles from Natalie Fernandez and Haley Hayden and a walk to Lexie Elkins. Fernandez would come around to score when Shellie Landry was hit by the pitch, knotting the game at one.
Taylor Thom broke the tie in the first at-bat of the fourth, hitting her tenth home run of the season to give the Longhorns back the lead, 2-1.
Texas continued to pressure the Cajuns, stranding two runners on base in the sixth inning and getting a runner on second base in with one out in the sixth. Hamilton got a popup to the Fernandez at second, for the second out, leading to a stunning defensive effort by Kendall Smith for the final out. Smith made a diving grab in left field where she entered after pinch hitting in the sixth, stealing an extra-base hit and keeping the Cajuns within one run before their last at-bat.
Like they have so well in the past month, the Cajuns proved to be a team that won't give up, mounting a seventh inning rally to win the game. Elkins led the inning off with a full-count walk and was pinch-ran for by Cassidy White. Samantha Walsh followed up the walk with a single to right field, and Landry singled to left to load the bases for Shelbi Redfearn.
Redfearn hit a single to the left-center gap, scoring White and tying the game, but Lotief held Walsh at third, keeping the bases loaded with no outs.
Two batters later, Corbello put the game away, drawing a full-count walk after battling back from an 0-2 count to take a rise ball for ball four, and score Walsh from third. It was the sixth walk of the game issued by Texas pitcher, and Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Tiarra Davis (19-13).
"This is exactly where we want to be at this point in the tournament," said Lotief. "It's a long way from being over. When you put teams, especially with their backs against the wall, you know they are going to continue fighting with their backs against the wall. Expect more drama."