No. 13 Cajuns complete sweep at Coastal Carolina, secures Sun Belt Championship
Home run ball pushes Ragin’ Cajuns past Coastal, securing Sun Belt title
CONWAY, S.C. – No. 13 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball quickly built its lead, scoring four runs over the first two innings, and never looked back in claiming a 10-2 (5 inn.) win over Coastal Carolina on Sunday that clinched the Sun Belt Conference’s regular season championship.
Entering the day needing only one win to secure the title, the fast start set the tone for the contest and ensured that the goal would be completed by Louisiana (38-9, 19-2 Sun Belt) before departing St. John Stadium.
The Ragin’ Cajuns collected the program’s 17th Sun Belt regular season championship in the 20 seasons of completed competition in league history. It’s the second consecutive title under the guidance of Gerry Glasco.
Sunday’s triumph also completed the three-game sweep of Coastal Carolina (19-22, 7-14 Sun Belt), the first in three trips to Conway for Louisiana. The series sweep was set up by a 7-2, 7-0 doubleheader sweep on Saturday that clinched the Ragin’ Cajuns nation-leading 63rd consecutive conference series victory.
Before the game’s first out was recorded, Louisiana held a 1-0 advantage. Ciara Bryan and Kaitlyn Alderink led off with back-to-back singles, and Bryan later scored on a successful double steal.
After Kandra Lamb turned the Chanticleers away with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, the decisive blow was delivered in the top of the second inning when a three-run home run from Karly Heath upped the lead to 4-0.
CCU would pick up a pair of runs in the third inning, but Louisiana took the runs back promptly when Alderink launched a two-run home run in the fourth inning making it 6-2.
The early departure from Conway was made necessary by a grand slam from Sophie Piskos in the fifth inning and more shutout softball tossed by Summer Ellyson who blanked the Chanticleers for 2-1/3 innings after the third-inning tallies.
Ellyson (18-5, 2.26 ERA), who earned the win in relief, recorded the 92nd victory of her collegiate career which moves her past Jordan Wallace (91 wins from 2012-15) into fourth place in program history.
Alderink (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) stretched out her career-best hitting streak to 16 games, turned in her first three-hit game of the season (10th multiple-hit game overall), and concluded the weekend with a team-high six base hits in nine official at bats (.667).
• The home runs by Karly Heath, Kaitlyn Alderink and Sophie Piskos pushed the Ragin’ Cajuns series total in Conway to seven, marking the second-most in a Sun Belt series this season (trailing only the 10 hit at Georgia State).
• The seven home runs that Louisiana hit in the series in Conway came from seven different individuals. Kailtlyn Alderink posted her first home run of the season and Sophie Piskos collected the first multiple-run homer of her collegiate career.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns increased their Sun Belt-leading home run totals to 54 overall and 33 in conference play. The squad has surpassed 50 home runs for the second time in the Gerry Glasco era (posted 58 in 2019).
• The 16-game hitting streak for Kaitlyn Alderink is the second-longest by a Ragin’ Cajun in the 2021 season and one shy of matching the 17-game streak Ciara Bryan strung together from Feb. 26-March 27.
• During the 16-game hitting streak, which began on April 5, Kaitlyn Alderink is batting .522 (24-for-46) with 15 runs scored, 10 doubles, a home run and 11 RBI. She’s raised her season average from .260 prior to the streak, to the present mark of .358.
• The leadoff single by Ciara Bryan marked the 44th time in 47 games played in the 2021 season in which she’s posted at least one base hit. Bryan’s current season total of 71 base hits represents the first 70-hit season of her collegiate career.
• The three-run home run in the second inning, coupled with a double in her next at bat, marked a strong finish to a Homecoming for South Carolina native Karly Heath.
• Summer Ellyson, who pitched a complete game shutout of Coastal Carolina in the 2020 season visit and in the 2019 Sun Belt Tournament championship game, continued her mastery of the Chanticleers hitters. Ellyson worked eight innings in the series, held CCU scoreless, yielded only three hits and a .107 average, and struck out eight batters.
• Summer Ellyson improved to 10-1 in Sun Belt Conference play in the 2021 season. In conference play, she’s recorded a 1.58 ERA over 71 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to 20 runs (16 earned) and 50 base hits on a .191 average.
• Louisiana improved to 33-0 when scoring five or more runs in a game during the 2021 season.
• The pitching staff limited the opposition to two runs or less for the 28th time overall this season (out of 47 games), and for the 15th time in 21 Sun Belt Conference outings.
• Louisiana increased its all-time series lead over Coastal Carolina to 15-2, which now includes a 7-2 mark in Conway.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns have now claimed 25 of their 38 wins in the 2021 season away from Lamson Park (22 true road wins; 3 neutral site wins).
No. 13 Louisiana returns to Yvette Girouard Field at Lamson Park for Senior Weekend set for Thursday-Saturday, May 6-8 to face ULM (15-28, 5-13 Sun Belt) in a three-game series that marks the final homes games of the 2021 season. For the first time all season, Lamson Park will be operating at 100 percent capacity.
The Ragin’ Cajuns and Warhawks open the series with a 6 p.m. single game on Thursday (May 6), followed by another 6 p.m. contest on Friday (May 7) and the series finale at 2 p.m. on Saturday (May 8). The Friday and Saturday matchups are set to air on ESPN+.
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