Sun Times-Journal Editor
For the University of Louisiana Lady Cajun softball team, it was, as Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said, “deja vu all over again.”
The Pride of Louisiana won the Baton Rouge NCAA Softball Regionals this past weekend, beating the mighty Texas A&M Lady Aggies twice and the highly-favored host LSU Lady Tigers and their famous coach, Yvette Girouard (who left UL to go to LSU), once in their own crib to advance to the Super Regionals this week in Los Angeles, California. There, they will take on the powerful UCLA Lady Bruins in a best of three affair for the right to advance to the NCAA College Softball World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
In 2008, the Lady Cajuns beat Girouard and the Lady Tigers twice in a hotly-contested series in Baton Rouge to claim state superiority in the popular women’s sport.
The Lady Cajuns faced their first test on Friday evening, besting the Lady Aggies 5-0 behind good pitching from Brittany Cuevas and hot-hitting from Gabrielle Bridges, who belted a two-run homer to pace UL. That set up the big game in the winner’s bracket against host LSU on Saturday, which had beaten McNeese State on Friday evening.
In a thrilling softball game for state supremacy, UL starting pitcher Donna Bourgeois pitched a five-hit shutout to defeat LSU 1-0. Lady Cajun Nerissa Myers’ run-scoring single in the fourth accounted for the lone run of the game against a frustrated Lady Tiger team and Girouard, who couldn’t seem to find a way to get her team to hit with runners in scoring position.
Texas A&M then beat McNeese State again in the loser’s bracket game, eliminating the Cowgirls from the Regional and setting up Saturday’s game against host LSU in a battle of once-beatens.
The Lady Aggies would spring another 1-0 loss on the host Lady Tigers, ousting them from their own Regional and setting up another game against the Lady Cajuns, who were sitting pretty in the catbird’s seat with a 2-0 record.
That contest came on Sunday evening, and the Lady Cajuns didn’t disappoint their many fans who made the trip to Baton Rouge to witness the action. UL (45-15) used the big bat of Bridges and the steady pitching of Cuevas yet again to grab a 6-1 victory over the Lady Aggies to take the Regional Championship.
The Lady Cajuns jumped on top in the top of the fourth when Kelly Cormier walked, moved to third on a single by Vallie Gaspard, and then scored on an RBI hit from Melissa Verde.
Then, with two outs, Bridges connected once again for a three-run blast over the left field fence to give UL breathing room and a comfortable 4-0 advantage.
The Aggies’ Meagan May would hit a home run in the bottom of the frame off Cuevas, but the Lady Cajuns would plate two more runs in the final innings to win going away by the final of 6-1.
An obviously ecstatic UL team will be underdogs against UCLA, but don’t count them out by any means. UL’s girls are tremendous competitors and will give their best effort and more, something LSU and Girouard have seen all too often in their own home ball park.
Besides, quoting old Yogi again, “a game is never over until it’s over.”