COLUMBUS, Ga.-Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns softball team suffered their second loss in as many days, as they fell 2-1 to Iowa in nine innings at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

In the bottom of the final inning, a sacrifice bunt moved the runner on second – placed on second because of international tie-breaker rules – to within 60 feet of home. The Cajuns intentionally walked the next batter to put the double play in play. Ashley Brignac (River Ridge, La.) struck out the next batter to leave Iowa with runners on the corners and two outs. Lindsey Digmann hit a ball to shortstop Brooke Brodhead (Lafayette, La.). Brodhead double-pumped and fired a shot to first base that appeared to beat Digmann to the bag, but she was ruled safe, scoring the runner from third and handing UL their second loss of the season.

Brignac tossed 8.2 innings, scattering three hits and striking out seven and allowing just one earned run.

Offensively, the Cajuns mustered just four hits in the game. Brodhead had the only extra base hit for UL with a double in the second. Lana Bowers (Crosby, Texas), Gabriele Bridges (Lafitte, La.) and Melissa Verde (Beaumont, Texas) each had hits in the game as well.

The Cajuns (10-2) fought hard throughout the night, but missed opportunities to score.

The Cajuns broke the scoreless deadlock in the third inning. Katie Smith (Ruston, La.) drew a four-pitch walk. She proceeded to steal second base. The throw to try to catch the runner ended up in centerfield, allowing Smith to advance to third. After a walk gave the Cajuns runners on the corners, Holly Tankersley (Kirbyville, Texas) hit into a fielder’s choice plating Smith and giving UL a 1-0 lead.

UL missed an opportunity in the fourth inning. Bowers led off the inning with a single to centerfield. Bridges followed with a single through the left side of the infield to give the Cajuns runners on first and second. A one-out walk loaded the bases, but a strikeout and a fielder’s choice ended the inning.

Iowa tied the score on one swing of the bat.

The Hawkeye’s Emily Nichols became the first batter this season to hit a home run off of Brignac. Her solo homer in the bottom of the sixth inning knotted the score at 1-1.

In the seventh, the Cajuns had a pair of runners at first and second with just one out, but were unable to generate any runs as an inning-ending double play halted the UL charge.

In the Iowa half of the seventh, the leadoff batter drew a walk and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter hit a ball towards third base that Brodhead quickly fielded and threw to Verde to retire the lead runner. With two outs and a runner on first base, Iowa flied out to left field to end the inning.

The Cajuns missed a prime opportunity in the top of the eighth inning. Tankersley was placed on second base as per the international tie-breaker rules. Vanessa Soto (San Diego, Calif.) grounded out to the shortstop to advance Tankersley to third base. The Cajuns failed to score Tankersley as a fielder’s choice recorded the second out of the inning. A foul out ended the inning and left the score 1-1.

Iowa missed an opportunity of their own in the bottom of the inning. With a runner on second, the Hawkeyes failed to successfully execute a sacrifice bunt, popping up to the catcher. An intentional walk gave UI runners on first and second. Brignac fielded a slow roller back to the circle and retired the lead runner. With two on and two outs, Karli Hubbard (Lafayette, La.) made a game-saving diving catch to end the inning.

The Cajuns once again advanced a runner to third base in the top of the ninth, but were unable to score the go ahead run, setting the stage for Iowa’s rally in the bottom of the inning.

The Ragin’ Cajuns will conclude play in the 2008 NFCA Leadoff Classic on Sunday morning, with a game against No. 12 Michigan at 9:00 a.m.

Chris Whitehead