Home run welcome

Appalachian State’s Alison Durrence gets ready to be mobbed by her teammates after hitting a home run against Louisiana on April 13.

BOONE — The Appalachian State softball team went into its three-game series with No. 11 Louisiana looking to hand the Ragin Cajuns their first Sun Belt loss.

App State nearly did that on April 12, but fell 3-1. In between a battle with Mother Nature — a rainstorm that delayed the first game for more than six hours — Louisiana showed why it is one of the top teams in the country.

Louisiana pounded App State 8-0 in the first game and 15-5 in the second on April 13. Both games were played at the Sywassink/Lloyd Field and both games were shortened to five innings because of the eight-run mercy rule.

Louisiana left Boone with a 37-4 overall record 18-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. Appalachian State, after winning just four conference games in 2018, slipped to 27-14 overall, 11-6 in the Sun Belt. The Mountaineers also slipped behind Troy (32-14, 14-5) to third place in the Sun Belt.

Louisiana pitcher Summer Ellison struck out seven Mountaineers and allowed an infield hit in the first game. She also walked two batters in a game that was a scoreless tie after two innings before the rain started to call. After the rain delay that included a brief bout with fog, Louisiana scored seven runs in the third inning and another in the fifth to pull away from App State. The Cajuns picked up six hits, including a home run from Kourtney Gremillion in the third inning.

“That’s why they’re the No. 11 team in the country,” App State coach Shelly Hoerner said. “Good teams are going to do that and unfortunately we’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game every day and in order to compete with them we have to play our best.”

“We went from 0-0 to a rain delay and some things happen and seven runs escalates quickly,” App State senior catcher Jenny Dodd said. “A few hits and a home run and it’s a completely different ballgame.”

Louisiana took a 10-0 lead by the third inning of the second game of the doubleheader. Ellyson, who started the game on the mound, yielded to the Cajuns’ second pitcher Carrie Boswell, who gave up five runs, all earned, on four hits. It was the most runs given up by the Cajuns all season in one inning.

App State’s Keri White and Dodd both went 3-for-3 in the game, while Alison Durrence drove in three runs with a home run. Appalachian State finished with eight hits, while Louisiana collected 17 hits, four by Alissa Dalton, who also had driven in four runs.

“We didn’t give up,” Hoerner said. “We knocked one of their pitchers out, their No. 2 pitcher and we saw their No. 1 for most of the three games.”

App State pitcher Kenzie Longanecker kept the Mountaineers close in the first game of the series. The game was tied going into the seventh inning before Louisiana scored three runs in the top of the seventh. Longanecker scattered five hits through the first six innings, but Louisiana broke through with four hits in the top of the seventh.

Baylee Morton drove in a run for the Mountaineers off Ellyson, who scattered four App State hits. She also struck out nine.

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