— By David Walsh
Sam Landry’s pitching and Lauren Allen’s homer proved to be enough for Louisiana to edge Marshall, 1-0, Saturday in the Sun Belt Conference softball tournament championship game at Girouard Field at Lamson Park in Lafayette, La.
The tournament championship gives the Ragin’ Cajuns (45-13) a four-peat and earns them the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Bids come out Sunday afternoon. They won the league’s regular-season crown and began the day ranked No. 24 nationally.
Marshall finishes the season 44-10 with the win total a single-season record for the program. Now the Thundering Herd must wait for Sunday to know its future.
Allen belted the first pitch from the Herd starter Sydney Nester for a homer to right to lead off the fourth inning for the home team. The top seed Ragin’ Cajuns did load the bases in the sixth, but Nester got Alexa Langeliers to strike out to end the threat. Nester (27-8) allowed just four hits. She started all three games in the tournament. She 78 pitches Saturday.
In the fifth, the No. 2 seed Herd turned a double play to deny a Louisiana run. Stormy Katzelnick had a single and stole second. Lancey Credeur would ground a ball to first where Reilly Lucas fielded the ball, tagged the bag and then fired home to nail Katzelnick, who tried to score on the play. The Ragin’ Cajuns appealed the out, citing Marshall catcher Autumn Owen had blocked the plate. After a review, the out call stood.
Landry, a sophomore, limited Marshall to one hit. Lauren Love generated that in the sixth. With runners on first and second, Landry retired Grace Chelemen on a called third strike to end the inning. Landry (17-4) walked three and fanned 11. She struck out the side in the seventh to touch off a wild celebration for the Ragin’ Cajuns and the 1,574 fans in the park. Landry threw 89 pitches with 60 strikes. Marshall’s left-handed hitters went 0-for-15 in the game.
Louisiana extended its Sun Belt Tournament win streak to 14 games dating backing to 2019. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 72-9 all-time in the event. This was their ninth straight appearance in the championship game and 21st in 23 conference tournaments. This is the first four-peat since 2008-11 and the school’s 18th overall tournament crown.
This was Marshall’s first season in the Sun Belt and came in with the top offense in the league. It was the first meeting against Louisiana this season.