Former Lady Horn Makes Headlines

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The banner headline on the Southeastern Louisiana University Web site, Lionsports.net, told the entire story.

It read, "Upset! Ray, Lady Lions Shock No. 5 LSU, 1-0." "Ray" referred to former Lady Longhorn softball pitcher, Rachel Ray, now a junior hurler at SLU in Hammond, La.

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Former Lady Longhorn Rachel Ray set the collegiate softball world on its ear by shutting out nationally ranked LSU.

The fireballing ex-Lady Horn pulled off the attention-grabbing upset last week, pitching the Lady Lions to a 1-0 win over World Series-bound Louisiana State University at North Oak Park field.

"We play them every year and they usually (10) run-rule us," Ray said. "That's what made this win so special."

In hurling the historic win, Ray (18-10) became the second pitcher all season to shut out the powerful Tigers.

Ray scattered eight hits and coolly pitched her way out of several jams, including one in the sixth inning, when LSU had runners on second and third. Ray got the third out on a fly ball to left field.

"(LSU batters) are so disciplined at the plate. They wait for only the pitches (they want)," she said. "All I could do is try to keep (the ball) outside and low."

In winning, Ray tied the school's single season record for victories and the single season record for shut outs with seven.

She was also named Southland Conference Pitcher of the Week.

The former Lady Horn missed all of 2006 with a back injury, but has come back to be one of the Southland Conference's premier pitchers.

"I'm completely over that. It doesn't affect me at all," she said.

Following the upset victory, SLU coach Pete Langlois told reporters, "We can play with anybody when she's on her game, and she certainly was tonight.

"She's been the backbone of our team all year and we're so proud of her performance, not only tonight, but throughout the season."

Ray said, "This is the best feeling I've ever had playing softball."

SLU scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning on two LSU errors.

Bound for Hammond

In August 2003, Ray accepted a scholarship offer to attend SLU, after originally committing to play at an Arizona junior college.

During her four-year tenure at PHS, Ray built a reputation as one of the best pitchers in the state.

Known for the velocity of her pitches, she also sported tough-to-hit rise balls and change ups. Ray's arsenal included a drop ball that she threw on occasion.

In the victory over LSU, Ray continued to use many of the offerings she developed on the PHS pitching mound.

"I use a drop, curve and a change up, but a rise is my ‘go-to' pitch," she said. "I tried to throw one change up, but they hit it."

Ray admitted she questioned her decision to move to Louisiana in the early fall of 2005 after spending four agonizing days in her sweltering Hammond condominium, wondering whether Hurricane Katrina's wrath had finally ended.

During the ordeal, her younger sister, Rikki, who also attends SLU, was with her.

"We're from Payson, so we don't know anything about hurricanes," Rikki said. "We'd never experienced anything like what was going on. We had no electricity. It was 90 degrees in our condo and most of the (town's) people had left."

Rachel remembers the hurricane well.

"We couldn't call our parents (in Payson) and we didn't want to drive and use up our gas because we knew we couldn't buy more," she said. "About all we could do was sleep and wonder what was going on."

Rachel said the Katrina ordeal was unnerving, but she's elated she made the decision four years ago to move to Louisiana.

"I'm really happy here. I love it," she said "I'm going where my life takes me and it's all been good."

Rachel is majoring in nursing with her sights set on some day becoming an RN.

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