Despite the result of the game being a 11-0 victory in favor of the NPF Champions, USSSA Pride, it was a successful fundraiser for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball program at Lamson Park.
“It was an awesome crowd and afternoon,” head coach Michael Lotief said. “We really want to thank our fans and the crowd for coming out and supporting the team. You can’t sugarcoat it. The Pride is the best team in the country and we are a work in progress. [The Pride] came out and handed it to us but our fans stayed and supported us and stayed behind us.”
Besides being a fall exhibition match to get the team some practice, it was also set up as a fundraiser for the program, to for the upcoming season. 1,125 softball fans showed up to Lamson Park to watch the Cajuns take on the best professional team in the nation.
Aside from softball they had an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for a signed ball, helmet and season tickets, as well as the always-popular 50/50 drawing.
“It was a tremendous event,” UL development director Stefni Lotief said. “It showcases our venue for our fans to come out. They love this program and have supported it from day one. It is a true grassroots effort, and a true fan based program. Our girls are fortunate to be in this kind of an environment and to bring such a good team to Lamson Park.”
The game was also an important event for the Pride, who spend the fall traveling around the nation to colleges, in attempt to spread the game of softball.
“Our concept is to grow the sport of fastpitch softball,” Robert Boudreau, USSSA board member said. “It’s dying, it’s not an Olympic sport anymore so anything that we can do to help promote the game is what we are all about. We come on the road to showcase what the sport is.”
The game itself was a good exhibition test for the Cajuns. The Pride is coming off of a championship season in the National Professional Fastpitch league, and boasted a lineup with several former All-American selections.
Junior pitcher Jordan Wallace held the Pride off the scoreboard for the first three innings on just three hits, before they went off for four runs on four hits in the fourth inning. Wallace came out of the game after that inning, tossing 4.0 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and picked up two strikeouts.
The Pride continued to show why they were the NPF Champions in 2013, scoring three more runs in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Francesca Enea, a fourth-year professional out of Florida, was dominant at the plate, going 4-for-4 with eight RBI on three home runs.
The Cajuns were held to just three hits in the game, all from returning starters. Natalie Fernandez and Leandra Maly both picked up infield singles, and Samantha Walsh singled to center field. All three of them finished the game 1-for-3 at the plate.
The Cajuns had their best chance at finding the scoreboard in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Pride pitcher, Blaire Luna (Texas) got a strikeout and a 6-3 groundout to hold off the Cajuns’ charge.
“It’s not so much focusing on the opponent as much as it is focusing on us,” Michael Lotief said. “I have been here for a long time and I don’t think we have ever come out and played our best softball in the first game of the fall. It is a process and obviously we are in different places [as the Pride]. We know what we need to do and we are going to roll up our sleeves and use this experience to get motivated and work on getting better.”
The game is just the first of the fall for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who will head to Houston, Texas on Oct. 5 to take on UTSA and Baylor in the Spring Klein College Invitational.
The fall 2013 schedule concludes on Nov. 9 when the Cajuns host an Alumni game, welcoming back players from all 33 seasons of Cajuns softball.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!