LAFAYETTE – Two home runs from DJ Sanders and a two-hit shutout tossed by freshman Alyssa Denham carried No. 18 Louisiana Lafayette softball to a 7-0 win and the series victory over No. 4 Alabama on Sunday at Lamson Park.
Sanders' production at the plate resulted in a team-high three RBIs for the junior shortstop. She provided Louisiana (6-3) with the lead on a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning and added a solo home run in the fifth inning.
Denham recorded a first-pitch strike off 24 of the 28 batters she faced and needed only 86 pitches the entire contest to capture the first win over a ranked team in her young career.
Denhman held the Crimson Tide (7-2) hitless over the final five innings of play. Alabama did not get a runner past second base the entire game.
Two home runs from DJ Sanders, great defense and a two-hit masterpiece by freshman Alyssa Denham helps Louisiana beat Alabama. pic.twitter.com/8EOvd0gMY2— Ragin' Cajuns SB (@RaginCajunsSB) February 19, 2017
The two teams had split a Saturday doubleheader, with Alabama winning 3-0 in Game 1 and Louisiana 11-2 (six innings) in Game 2, to set the stage for Sunday's rubber game.
It's the third time since 2014 that the Ragin' Cajuns picked up a series win over a top 25 team at Lamson Park. In 2014, Louisiana took two of three from No. 13 Oklahoma (March 14-15, 2014) and last season captured two of three from No. 5 Oregon in a series that was part of the Louisiana Classics (Feb. 19-20, 2016).
An infield single by Chandler Dare and subsequent wild pitch gave Alabama a runner at second base in the first inning – one of only two times the entire game the Crimson Tide placed a runner in scoring position. After a two-out walk, Denham forced Peyton Grantham to pop up to Sanders for the final out of the frame.
Crimson Tide starting pitcher Alexis Osorio appeared to work around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first as Haley Hayden popped up and Aleah Craighton struck out. Sanders picked them up, and opened a 2-0 lead for Louisiana, with a towering two-run home run into the left field bleachers.
The Ragin' Cajuns, who drew nine walks in the game off of Osorio and reliever Sydney Littlejohn, used the free passes to starting extending the lead in the fourth inning. Daniella Chavez, Lexie Comeaux and Beth Ashleyeach walked to load the bases and the result was a run scoring on a Corin Voinché sacrifice fly.
Louisiana gave Denham more breathing room with two-run innings in the fifth and sixth.
Sanders' second homer of the day (solo shot) and a run off a Crimson Tide fielding error increased the margin to five runs in the fifth. Then in the sixth inning, Chavez delivered a two-run single into right field upping the lead to 7-0.
Denham worked around a hit by pitch and walk in the sixth inning to keep Alabama off the scoreboard by striking out Claire Jenkins in an eight-pitch at bat. A 1-2-3 seventh inning sealed the game and series win for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Denham struck out four and walked only three over seven innings in recording the first shutout by a Cajuns pitcher in 2017. She improved her season record to 2-1 with the win. The Pearland, Texas native ended the series holding the Crimson Tide offense to two runs (one earned) and five hits over 12 innings of work.
Sanders produced a two-hit performance for the second straight outing (2-for-3 in Game 2 Saturday). She finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBI, reaching her season-high RBI total and posting her team-leading third multiple-RBI game of the season.
Louisiana evened the all-time series ledger with Alabama at 6-all. The Ragin' Cajuns moved to 4-1 against the Crimson Tide at Lamson Park.