Strong Pitching and Timely Hits Lead Cajuns Over SHSU

LAFAYETTE, La. – Natalie Fernandez picked up six hits and Kelsey Vincent drove in four runs, to team up with the pitching tandem of Christina Hamilton and Jordan Wallace leading the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns to a doubleheader sweep of the Sam Houston Bearkats, 7-0, and 4-2, on Wednesday at Lamson Park.

The Cajuns (19-6-1) got complete games out of both Hamilton and Wallace, with Hamilton tossing her second shutout in three games, while the duo held the Bearkats to five hits over 14 innings, combining for 14 strikeouts and three walks.

“We have things we need to work on and you can see that,” head coach Michael Lotief said. “We play the game in an imperfect way, but the girls keep fighting and believing. They aren't making excuses, they just keep fighting.”

Hamilton picked up her ninth win (9-1) of the season in the opener, allowing three hits and one walk, fanning five batters, and Wallace improved to 8-2 on the season, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits, while fanning nine and walking two batters.

“We wanted to make sure that [Hamilton] stayed consistent and kept her rhythm,” Lotief said. “We felt that [Wallace] had made some progress over the last week, so we wanted to throw her out there in the second game to test out a game situation to get her confident again. [The pitching] was fun to watch.”

Fernandez went 6-for-6 on the day, with a walk, reaching base in all seven plate appearances. Her perfect day at the plate improved her season batting average to a conference-leading .506 (41-for-81) with 35 runs scored (two today).

“What I see from my vantage point is a kid that is locked in and is able to take advantage of whatever comes her way,” Lotief said. “[Fernandez] is providing leadership for the rest of the team and you can see her energy. Everything about that kid is all in and she is going for it, which is more representative than any number to me.

The Cajuns scored single runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings, before benefiting from a three-run sixth inning, including a two-run single from Vincent, to build insurance in game one, en route to a 6-0 win.

After three scoreless innings for both teams in the nightcap, Sam Houston took their first lead of the day on their first run of the day, with a one-out solo home run by Tori Koerselman. Wallace shut the door in the inning after that, striking out the next batter and getting the third out with a foul out to exit the inning down just one.

The Cajuns responded immediately, however. Lexie Elkins led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and one batter later, Vincent hit a two-run home run to put an exclamation point on her 4-for-6 day.

The Cajuns would add two more runs in the fifth and sixth innings with RBI doubles by both Haley Hayden and Samantha Walsh to make it 4-2, Cajuns.

Hayden's double would prove worthy for the Cajuns, scoring Fernandez for the game-winning run.

The Bearkats got one run in the seventh, but Wallace came through strong getting a strikeout and a fly out to finish the game and get the sweep for the Cajuns.

The Cajuns will take to the road over the weekend, opening Sun Belt Conference play in Atlanta, Ga., when they take on Georgia State in a three game series on Saturday and Sunday. The Cajuns and Panthers will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST), with the series finale on Sunday at noon (EST).

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