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UL Softball Takes On WKU In Sun Belt Conference Tournament

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The 12th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun softball team opens up play in the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Softball Championship on Thursday, taking on the WKU Lady Toppers in second day action at Lamson Park.

After four single-elimination games on Wednesday, the tournament now moves to a double-elimination format for play on Thursday and Friday.

Louisiana, the top-seed, drew a first day bye after capturing the regular season title, their 11th in the 13 years of the sport in the conference.

The Cajuns, who have won 12-consecutive games, and 33 of their last 35, are 41-7-1, overall, and 19-1 in Sun Belt Conference play.

WKU, the number four seed, advanced to play on Thursday after defeating UT-Arlington, 6-1 on Wednesday, eliminating the Trojans.

The Lady Toppers are currently 33-22-1, overall, and went 11-10 in conference play during the regular season.

Offensively, the Cajuns are currently hitting a .304 as a team, which leads the Sun Belt Conference, along with 74 home runs, which also leads the league, 299 RBI’s, and 40 stolen bases.

Louisiana is led by senior second baseman Natalie Fernandez, a first team All-Sun Belt Conference selection, who leads the conference in hitting (.456), on-base percentage (.552), and runs scored (59), along with sophomore catcher Lexie Elkins, the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, who leads the conference in both homers (17) and runs batted in (64), and freshman outfielder Hayley Hayden, another first team All-Sun Belt Conference selection, who is second in both homers (14) and RBI’s (50).

Elkins, who is hitting a .386, and Hayden, who is hitting a .337, are also above the .300 mark, along with sophomore designated player Gabby Felps (.308), who has gotten more at-bats as of late.

WKU, who is hitting a .274 as a team, which ranks fourth, along with 30 home runs, 220 RBI’s, and 105 stolen bases.

Offensively, the Lady Toppers are paced by senior second baseman Olivia Watkins, who is hitting a .375, along with a league-leading 53 stolen bases, and senior third baseman Preslie Cruce, who is batting a .310 with seven home runs and 31 runs batted in. Both were recently tabbed first team All Conference picks.

Pitching-wise, Louisiana brings a an overall team ERA. of 2.83 into the series, which ranks second in the league. Junior right-hander Christina Hamilton, the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, is currently 22-1, with a 1.46 ERA., which is good enough for third in the league, while junior right-hander Jordan Wallace is 14-3, with a 3.91 ERA.

WKU brings a combined team ERA. of 3.17 into the match-up, which ranks fourth. Senior right-hander Emily Rousseau is 17-16 with a 2.90 ERA, while freshman left-hander Hannah Miniard is 13-6 with a 3.55 ERA.

The Cajuns swept a three-game series from the Lady Toppers earlier in the year in Bowling Green, Kentucky, winning by scores of 8-4, 11-5, and 6-4.

The winner will advance to a winners bracket game at 2 o’clock on Friday, while the loser falls into the losers bracket and will have to win twice on Friday to qualify for Championship Saturday, with the first of their losers bracket contests scheduled for Friday at 11 am.

First-pitch is scheduled for 5 o’clock.

You can hear all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420 & beginning with the pre-game show at 4:45 pm.

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