Wallace leads UL-L past Arizona St.
Freshman pitcher allows just two hits, Cajuns belt two homers
TEMPE, Arizona -- Freshman Jordan Wallace threw a complete-game, two-hitter and Louisiana-Lafayette pounded out 12 hits, including home runs by Paige Cormier and Sarah Draheim, as the Ragin' Cajuns posted a 6-0 win against Arizona State in the first game of the best-of-three super regional at Farrington Stadium.
The 14th-seeded Cajuns (53-4) will face the third-seeded Sun Devils (49-9) again on Friday with a spot in the Women's College World Series on the line, its first since 2008.
“I am happy for my team because of the way we played tonight, but we really haven’t done anything yet,” UL-L co-head coach Michael Lotief said. “It’s a long way to Oklahoma City and we are a long way from getting there. I know that tomorrow is going to be another battle and that we are going to have to come out and fight for every pitch and for every out.
“We got one win and we need one more. I know that Arizona State is going to be ready [Friday],” Lotief added.
On a night in which the Cajun offense put runners on base in all but the sixth inning, it was Wallace who controlled the game. The freshman needed just 71 pitches and allowed just three base runners, including none past second base, to improve to 27-1. She struck out three and walked one.
After walking leadoff hitter Katelyn Boyd and going 3-0 to Alix Johnson to open the game, Wallace quickly found her groove. She came back to strike out Johnson, coerce Annie Lockwood to hit a fly out to center and struck out Elizabeth Caporuscio to end the inning.
Wallace kept it going, retiring the side in both the second and the third, and needing a total of just 10 pitches. After a Johnson bunt single to open the fourth, Wallace set down 12 of the next 13 batters to finish the game, including a routine 1-2-3 seventh inning.
“I was definitely having a little anxiety at the beginning, but you know you have to overcome those emotions and play your game,” Wallace said. “I knew I was better than to let the moment get the best of me and I just battled through it.”
After getting a pair of base runners in each of the first three innings, the Cajuns opened the scoring in the fourth when Paige Cormier and Sarah Draheim hit back-to-back home runs off Sun Devil starter Dallas Escobedo to put UL-L ahead 2-0.
The homers couldn’t have been any different. Cormier crushed a 1-2 pitch from Escobedo over the old outfield wall in left center for her 12th long ball of the year. Draheim’s homer, her eighth of the season, came on a line drive that barely had enough elevation to clear the six-and-a-half foot wall. It appeared to be headed for the gap, but rode the winds that were gusting at up to 20 mph to right center.
“When you’re facing an All-American like Dallas Escobedo and you get some traffic on the bases, you are just waiting for the timely hit,” Lotief said. “Our style is being aggressive and I want our hitters and base runners to stay aggressive. We just needed to keep attacking at the plate and I felt we would eventually get some timely hits.”
UL made it 3-0 in the top of the fifth when Nerissa Myers used her speed to manufacture a run. The nation’s leader in runs scored with 80 entering the game, Myers led off the inning with a line drive double down the left field line. She then went to third on a warning-track fly ball to right by Christi Orgeron and came into score on a sacrifice fly to right by Matte Haack.
The Cajuns plated three more runs in the seventh to chase Escobedo. Natalie Fernandez and Katie Smith led off with back-to-back bunt hits and with two outs, Haack lined a single up the middle that scored Fernandez and sent Smith to third. Haack stole second, one pitch before Brianna Cherry lined a single to the wall in right center to score both Smith and Haack
That was all for Escobedo, who allowed six earned runs on 12 hits, striking out two without a walk in 5.2 innings. It was just the fifth time in 28 starts this year that she failed to record a complete game.