The Ragin’ Cajuns showed up red hot and ready for game two Saturday afternoon in Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
They seemed to have been recharged by the sunshine on Sunflower Saturday. Pregame dance moves continued through all seven innings. The black-and-red dugout and its loyal corner of fans on the right side of the field fed off each other’s energy throughout. Every big play by Louisiana was met by an emphatic “Ragin’ Cajuns” chant between the players and fans.
Irritated by the cold weather and equally frozen bats of the home team after five innings with no runs despite a 4-0 lead in the first inning, the home crowd was not having it.
It tried to drive out the Cajuns’ cheer with a “Florida Gators” chant of its own to no avail. Despite Gators fans’ best efforts to thaw the team’s bats with warm words of encouragement and fiery complaints about the umpires, the orange and blue were unable to make anything happen.
No. 6 Florida fell to No. 10 Louisiana 7-5 at home Saturday to tie the series at one win a piece.
The Gators struggled on the mound. They went through four pitchers in four innings, every player on staff seeing time in the circle other than junior Natalie Lugo.
Freshman Rylee Trlicek started for Florida but was quickly sent back into the bullpen after allowing five earned runs in the second inning alone. The rest of her defense didn’t help much though, since three of those five runners that scored reached on fielder’s choices and one fielding error.
It wasn’t until senior Katie Chronister stepped in in the top of the sixth that the Gators found their groove. The rest of Florida’s pitching staff combined for five hits and six earned runs, while Chronister only allowed two hits for one run in 3.1 innings of work.
Other than giving up four runs in the bottom of the first, Cajuns pitcher Summer Ellyson had a good day in Gainesville. In her last five innings, Ellyson allowed two hits and zero runs on 19 batters. Senior Megan Kleist stepped in for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the bottom of the seventh after the Gators put their first two batters of the inning on base. Sophia Reynoso scored Florida’s first run in six innings on a sacrifice fly by senior Kendyl Lindaman. It looked like the Gators might be able to rally and take game two. But a pop out to shortstop Alissa Dalton by Charla Echols ended their hope of a comeback.
“We have to learn how to get past these kinds of games quickly,” coach Tim Walton said after the loss. “When you play a series like this, you play pretty good softball on Friday, and then you come out and not play your best and not perform at your best, you (have) got to be able to get rid of that quickly and come back for Sunday.”
Florida will be back on the prowl for redemption tomorrow at noon in KSP for the third and final game of the series.
Follow Payton on Twitter @petitus25 and contact her at email@example.com.