UL - Louisiana's Lady Cajuns softball team extended their season-long winning streak to 13 games with their 4-0 shutout of defending Sun Belt Conference champions Florida Atlantic.

The win improves the Cajuns to 34-10 on the season and gave UL a commanding lead in the Sun Belt Conference race. Louisiana is currently 12-2 overall in the conference; two games ahead of FAU in the win column and four games in front in the loss column.

Ashley Brignac (River Ridge, La.) tossed a complete game shutout. She surrendered just a pair of hits in 7.0 innings of work. Brignac fanned six batters in the game without issuing a walk. She induced 13 ground balls and a game ending fly ball.

In the series, the Cajuns pitching staff surrendered just five hits with no extra base hits. UL allowed just one unearned run in 21 innings of work tossing two shutouts including a no hitter.

Offensively, the Ragin' Cajuns scored four runs on five hits. Junior Karli Hubbard (Lafayette, La.) collected a pair of hits in the game, while Gabriele Bridges (Lafitte, La.), Vanessa Soto (San Diego, Calif.) and Katie Smith (Ruston, La.) each added a hit.

Soto finished the game with three runs batted in and hit her team-leading sixth sacrifice fly of the season. Six sacrifice flies ties Soto for first place in the NCAA. The half dozen sacrifice flies ties the senior with Jill Robertson (2001-03, 2005) and Joy Webre (2002-05) for second most in a single season. Soto is just one sacrifice fly shy of tying Alana Addison (1999-02) for the most in a season by a Cajun.

The Cajuns were the first to scratch the scoreboard in the third inning. Smith led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Vallie Gaspard (Maurice, La.). A wild pitch moved Smith to within 60-feet of home. Holly Tankersley (Kirbyville, Texas), who finished the game with three walks, drew a four-pitch walk to give the Cajuns runners on the corners. A two-RBI double by Soto to left field scored Smith and Tankersley to give UL a 2-0 lead.

In the fifth the Cajuns scored one run on a hit. Hubbard led off the inning with a single to left field and moved to second base on a four-pitch walk by Smith. Tankersley drew a walk to load the bases. Soto plated the lead runner with her NCAA-best sixth sacrifice fly of the season.

The final run of the game came in the sixth inning. With two outs, Bridges singled through the right side of the infield. She moved to second on a wild pitch. Bridges came around to score on a Hubbard single to left field. The left fielder dove to make the catch and just missed allowing Bridges to score easily.

The Ragin' Cajuns softball team will take a break to play an exhibition game against the United States Olympic team on Saturday, Apr. 19 in Sulphur, La. The Cajuns and Team USA met earlier this season at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The US National team edged out the Cajuns 1-0 in nine innings. Starting pitcher Brittany Cuevas (Brazoria, Texas) worked eight scoreless innings before surrendering an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth. The game in Sulphur is slated for 6:00 p.m. at McMurray Park. Gates open at 2:00 p.m.


Chris Whitehead