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Cajuns Sweep Middle Tennessee, Remain Perfect in Sun Belt Play

Saturday, May 8, 2004

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The final at bat of the day came down to two of the finalists for Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year here Saturday afternoon in a softball doubleheader between the top two teams in the league.

Louisiana junior ace hurler Brooke Mitchell caught Middle Tennessee slugger Cortney Mitchell looking at strike three for the final out of a save situation which helped No. 9 Louisiana-Lafayette (50-6, 16-0 Sun Belt) complete a twinbill sweep with a 4-2 come-from-behind victory at Lady Raider Field.

Mitchell, who had dominated the Lady Raiders (31-19, 11-7 Sun Belt) in the first game by tossing a complete-game, one-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in five innings, relieved Holly Tankersley after the Cajuns came up with three runs in the top of the seventh to rally from a 2-1 deficit.

With the sweep, Louisiana extended its win streak to nine games and picked up its 50th win of the season – the third time in four years under head coach Stefni Lotief that the Ragin’ Cajuns registered a 50-win season.

The victories also kept in tact the Cajuns unbeaten record in Sun Belt play heading into Sunday’s action and extended the team’s SBC win streak, dating to last season, to 19 straight games.

UL will have the opportunity to become the first team in league history to run the table when the two teams meet in a 1 p.m. twinbill Sunday afternoon.

Middle Tennessee opened a 2-0 lead off of Tankersley in the first inning, taking advantage of two infield singles with one out.

A fielder’s choice grounder by Leah Grothause scored Muriel Ledbetter, who had reached on a bloop single just out of the reach of Lacey Bertucci at first base. Grothause stole second on the next at bat and on the throw down to second, Cortney Mitchell raced home with the Lady Raiders second run of the inning.

Tankersley settled down after the first inning, keeping MT off the board while allowing just three hits as she picked up her eighth win of the season and fifth Sun Belt win.

The Cajuns took some time adjusting to MT starter Ashley Frizzell. The freshman hurler held Louisiana to two hits through the first five innings before the Cajuns figured her out in their last two at bats.

Ashley Evans led off the Cajuns half of the sixth with a double that clanged off the top of the outfield fence in right center. The West Monroe native scored two batters later when designated player Leslie Pierce hit a rocket shot back up the middle allowing Evans to round third to trim the deficit to 2-1.

The Cajuns had the chance to take the lead, but Joy Webre’s deep fly ball to left field was held in by the stiff breeze blowing into the park and Tiffany Grayson struck out swinging. Though the Cajuns failed to push more runs across, they did rattle Frizzell enough to set the stage for the seventh inning rally.

Tiffany Hebert opened the seventh with a leadoff walk and Hillary Guidry executed a bunt single. Hebert moved to third when MT second baseman Cortney Mitchell’s throw went behind Guidry and out of the reach of Brittany Herald.

Guidry stole second and Tankersley walked to load the bases with no outs recorded. The Lady Raiders pitched around Tankersley to set up a force at any base.

The force play worked for one out as Danyele Gomez hit a grounder to Herald at first base which resulted in Hebert being forced out at home.

Mayhem then hit for the Lady Raiders on the next at bat.

Ashley Evans looped a fly out into left field for the second out. Hillary Guidry attempted to tag up, but the ball was hit too shallow for her to advance.

Guidry retreated back to third base, but MT third baseman Melissa Weiland let the throw from Ledbetter roll past her and into the MT dugout. By rule all Cajun runners were allowed to advance two bases, scoring Guidry and Tankersley with the tying and go-ahead runs.

Brittany Bryant added another run for insurance purposes, lifting an RBI single into right center field to score Gomez and give the Cajuns a 4-2 lead.

Brooke Mitchell came in and shut the door on the Lady Raiders for her first save of the season.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Brooke Mitchell was the talk of the game. The Top 10 finalist for USA Softball National Player of the Year struck out 11 Lady Raider hitters and allowed just one hit as the Cajuns cruised to an 8-0 run-rule win in five innings.

Louisiana hit four doubles as a team and put up a six-spot in the fourth inning to pull away.

Gomez led the way with three RBI and Crystal George and Guidry each had a team-best two hits.

Tankersley hit a two-out double over the reach of Grothause in center field allowing Hebert to score from first for a 1-0 lead.

UL took advantage of MT miscues in the fourth to push across six runs and create some breathing room.

Evans led off the inning with a walk and stole second to move into scoring position. After a Brittany Bryant grounder moved Evans to third, Bertucci reached base on a wild pitch after she struck out.

Webre hit a grounder to shortstop that was bobbled by Kristina Hieb allowing Webre to reach base and Evans to score for a 2-0 advantage.

George then hit a bloop single into right field to load the bases. Guidry then laced an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score pinch runner Michelle Bergeaux and advance the runners up one base.

Hebert then reached on an error by Weiland at third base, allowing Webre to score for a 4-0 lead.

Two batters later, Gomez delivered the crushing blow when she ripped a double deep into right center field that cleared the bases and made it 7-0 Cajuns.

A one-out double from Webre followed by an RBI single from Pierce scored the Cajuns run in the fifth that provided the run-rule margin.

Mitchell struck out the final two batters of the game to record her 37th win of the season.

Louisiana 8, Middle Tennessee 0 (May 08, 2004 at Murfreesboro, Tenn.) (Game 1)
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Louisiana................. 001 61 - 8 9 0 (49-6, 15-0 SUN BELT)
Middle Tennessee.... 000 00 - 0 1 2 (31-18, 11-6 SUN BELT)
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Pitchers: Louisiana - Mitchell. Middle Tennessee - Bobo.
Win-Mitchell(37-3) Loss-Bobo(15-11) T-1:30 A-0

GAME NOTES
*Game 1 of weekend series
*Cajuns hit four doubles as a team
*Brooke Mitchell strikes out 11 for her 25th double-digit strikeout game of the season
*Cajuns extend their Sun Belt win streak, dating to last season, to 18 straight games

Louisiana 4, Middle Tennessee 2 (May 08, 2004 at Murfreesboro, Tenn.) (Game 2)
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Louisiana................. 000 001 3 - 4 6 1 (50-6, 16-0 SUN BELT)
Middle Tennessee.... 200 000 0 - 2 8 3 (31-19, 11-7 SUN BELT)
-Pitchers: Louisiana - Tankersley; Mitchell(7). Middle Tennessee - Frizzell.
Win-Tankersley(8-1) Save-Mitchell(1) Loss-Frizzell(6-3) T-2:11 A-85

GAME NOTES
*Game 2 of weekend series
*Cajuns extend their Sun Belt win streak to 19 straight games
*Cajuns get five hits in final two innings to rally from 2-0 deficit
*Cajuns remain unbeaten all-time vs. MT (18-0)
*Brooke Mitchell's first save of the season


-LOUISIANA’S RAGIN’ CAJUNS-
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