No. 21 Louisiana (26-10, 12-3 Sun Belt) vs. No. 24 Texas State (30-8, 11-0 Sun Belt)
Dates: Saturday-Sunday, April 14-15, 2018
Location: Lafayette, La.
Stadium: Lamson Park (2,790)
Apr. 14 – 5 p.m.
Apr. 15 – 12 p.m. (DH)
Streaming Video (Saturday): Ragin’ Cajuns Digital Network • Talent: Dan McDonald, PxP
Television/ESPN3 (Sunday): Cox Sports TV • Talent: Lyn Rollins, PxP; Yvette Girouard, analyst
Radio: ESPN 1420-AM • Talent: Steve Peloquin, PxP
Live Stats: CajunStats.com
Twitter Updates: @RaginCajunsSB
Youth Softball Day
• $4 per person group rate for teams in uniform or team attire
Faculty and Staff Appreciation
• UL Faculty and Staff and one guest receive FREE admission
• First 50 dad/daughter combos to the first game receive free popcorn
• Stand on field pregame/anthem and spend time on field postgame
SETTING THE SCENE
21st-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball meets fellow ranked Sun Belt Conference foe No. 24 Texas State in a pivotal league series Saturday-Sunday, April 14-15 at Lamson Park.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (26-10, 12-3 Sun Belt) aim to keep pace with the Sun Belt’s current leader. Texas State (30-8, 11-0 Sun Belt) brings a three-game edge in the loss column into the series.
The series with the Bobcats begins a stretch where Ragin’ Cajuns play three of their final four SBC series in the friendly confines of Lamson Park. Louisiana is 6-0 on its home field in league play thus far.
Louisiana enters the weekend riding its best offensive wave of the season. Over the past four games, the squad’s lineup has produced double digits hits each time out and totaled 53 (13.3 hits per game).
In the pitching circle the league’s Top 2 staffs will square off. Louisiana’s Summer Ellyson (1.71 ERA) and Texas State’s Randi Rupp (1.27 ERA) are the lone two pitchers with a sub-2.00 ERA.
Fans can hear the entire series on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM in the Acadiana region and worldwide on the ESPN 1420 app. Sunday’s doubleheader will be broadcast on Cox Sports Television and simulcast on ESPN3 outside of the CST viewing areas.
SERIES HISTORY (Louisiana leads, 31-4)
• Fifth Sun Belt series, overall, and third at Lamson Park since Texas State joined the league in 2014. Louisiana holds a 10-2 edge in SBC regular season contests.
• Ragin’ Cajuns swept the Sun Belt series from the Bobcats the previous two matchups at Lamson Park (2014, 2016).
• Louisiana and Texas State met for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship in 2016 (Mobile, Ala.) and 2017 (Troy, Ala.).
• Series began with a doubleheader at Lamson Park in February 1986. Louisiana won the first 12 meetings prior to a 4-2 Texas State win April 19, 2000.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Infield: The left side is anchored by veteran third baseman Kara Gremillion and sophomore transfer Alissa Dalton (Oklahoma) at shortstop, both preseason All-Sun Belt selections. The duo has combined for 152 assists and only 14 errors in a combined 229 chances. On the right side, Kourtney Gremillion (Kara’s sister) covers first base while freshman Casidy Chaumont has claimed the starter’s role at second base following the season-ending injury to JUCO transfer Brittany Holland.
Outfield: Senior Kelli Martinez, a preseason All-Sun Belt selection and four-year starter, is the veteran leader of the group. The opening day starter in left field, Martinez shifted to center field in recent weeks with the addition of Kalyn Watts, who is now in left field, to the lineup for added power. Aeriyl Mass gives the Cajuns a speed option for late-game defensive situations. Brittany Rodriguez has settled back into right field.
Pitchers: Sophomore Summer Ellyson has turned in several solid starts (includes win over No. 2 Florida, no-hitter, 20-strikeout performance) and ranks second in victories and ERA in the Sun Belt. Freshman Casey Dixon provides an additional option to start a contest and has been teaming with Ellyson to start in Sun Belt series. Carrie Boswell has been the first called up in relief duty in recent weeks. Senior Kylee Jo Trahan returned to work on the Florida State-Georgia State trip after arm soreness sidelined her most of March.
Catchers: Returning starter and 2017 All-Sun Belt and NFCA All-Central Region performer Lexie Comeaux leads the group. Freshman Caitlin Garcia and sophomore Beth Ashley have also seen time behind the plate. Expect Comeaux, who started all 55 games in 2017, to resume the primary catcher’s role the remainder of the season with Ashley serving as the backup.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Ragin’ Cajuns have one of the most passionate fan bases in the country and the energy they provide is a huge advantage. Louisiana has drawn above 1,500 for all 16 playing dates thus far.
FAMILIAR FOES: The Ragin’ Cajuns and Bobcats matchup features players from Texas who faced off with on another before in the high school ranks. The two programs are very familiar with one another as well, having met 10 times over the past two seasons including the Sun Belt Tournament championship game both years.
TIMELY HIT WATCH: In a series featuring two pitching staffs which excel and keeping foes off the base path – Louisiana with a .192 opposing average and Texas State a .199 opposing average – the team who can find the timely hits may find the most success.
HIGH STAKES SUCCESS: The 2018 version of the Ragin’ Cajuns is no stranger to succeeding on the biggest stage. Earlier this season, the squad outlasted then-No. 2 Florida in an 11-inning battle won by Summer Ellyson in a duel with Kelly Barnhill and Aleshia Ocasio.
HITS PARADE: In a continued sign of the Ragin’ Cajuns bats heating up at the right time, the squad generated 39 hits in the three-game series at Georgia State and followed up with 14 more at Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday. Louisiana had double digit hits all four games – the longest stretch of the season.
TWO-OUT DELIVERY: Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have met the challenge of two-out situations with great success in recent weeks. Last weekend at Georgia State, the squad hit .477 (21-of-44) with two outs and drove home 19 runs in two-out situations. Entering this week, Louisiana was hitting .373 and had posted 39 RBI with two outs over the past four weeks.
MORE IS BETTER: Head coach Gerry Glasco has placed an emphasis on the Ragin’ Cajuns increasing their extra base hits. Over the last 18 games, the squad has generated 45 extra base hits as compared to 24 the first 18 games. Having slap hitters Kelli Martinez, Brittany Rodriguez and Aeriyl Mass swing away recently is to help the Cajuns boost the extra bases.
A RESILIENT BUNCH: The Ragin’ Cajuns own 12 come-from-behind wins this season. In road Sun Belt series at Coastal Carolina and Troy, the squad rallied twice from a deficit.
PROTECTING THE PLATE: Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have made opposing pitchers and defenses work for their outs. The squad has 24 outings of three strikeouts or less through 36 games played.
EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES: One glance at the Ragin’ Cajuns stats and it’s clearly evident that anyone can step up at any time. Nine different players have posted double digit hits and the RBI figures are spread even with nine individuals having totals ranging from seven up to 25.
STANDING THEIR GROUND: Ragin’ Cajuns pitchers have limited the opposition to a .192 batting average. The unit has been stingier in Sun Belt play, with league foes accruing a .168 average.
BIG MOMENTS FOR BETH: In the South Alabama series, Beth Ashley provided the big hits in each game – run-scoring hits in the first inning of Games 1 and 3 and a three-run homer in Game 2 which forced extras. She picked up right where she left off at Georgia State with three run-scoring hits in the opener, a two-out RBI single to keep a three-run sixth inning going in Game 2 and a sacrifice fly to pull Louisiana ahead in the 13th inning of the finale.
A DEVELOPING CORE: The trio of Kara Gremillion (No. 3), Beth Ashley (No. 4) and Lexie Comeaux (No. 6) were integral parts of the Ragin’ Cajuns increased productivity last weekend in Atlanta as they combined for 16 hits and 18 RBI.
SUMMER’S STEADY: As she settles into the role as the Ragin’ Cajuns lead pitcher, Summer Ellyson has provided consistent results. She has yielded no more than three earned runs in 16 of her 18 starts. She’s also turned in 13 outings with five-plus strikeouts, seven of those coming in the past eight outings.
• Louisiana has won 42 consecutive Sun Belt Conference series (school and SBC record streak). The streak spans the previous four-plus seasons, dating back to a March 2013 sweep of FIU.
• Louisiana leads the Sun Belt Conference in the NCAA’s latest release of the 2018 RPI rankings. Coach Gerry Glasco’s squad checked in at No. 24 this week. It’s a big opportunity this weekend to get a boost as Texas State carries the 25th-rated RPI.
• Louisiana carries a nine-game winning streak at Lamson Park into the Texas State series.
• In Sun Belt play, Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have produced at a higher rate in clutch situations. The unit is hitting .350 with runners in scoring position, .361 in two-out situations and has posted 38 two-out RBI.
• Louisiana has out-hit the opposition 26 times over 36 games (23-3 record). The squad has exceeded five hits in 13 of 15 Sun Belt games.
• Alissa Dalton has an active nine-game hitting streak, the longest of her career and the team-best streak this season. During the streak, she is hitting .441 (15-for-34) which has raised her season average to .381.
• Beth Ashley increased her season RBI total to a team-leading 25 with her production at Georgia State. She’s bested her previous career best of 20 RBI set as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
• Kylee Jo Trahan, who worked 7-1/3 scoreless innings at Georgia State, appeared in the circle for the sixth straight game by starting Wednesday at Southeastern Louisiana. It was her first start since Feb. 25 vs. Memphis.
• Brittany Rodriguez is closing in on 200 career hits. Rodriguez, who picked up 151 hits over two seasons at Lamar, has generated 36 this season increasing her career total to 187.
• Alissa Dalton has thrived in the atmosphere at Lamson Park in her debut season. The sophomore transfer (Oklahoma) is batting .434, with just two strikeouts in 80 plate appearances, and has produced 16 RBI in the friendly confines.
• Summer Ellyson has yielded just 16 runs and 43 hits over 80 innings pitched inside Lamson Park. The sophomore hurler is 11-1 with a 1.14 ERA on her home turf.
• The 5-3 putout is a unique one for Louisiana as it pairs sisters Kara Gremillion (third base) and Kourtney Gremillion (first base). The siblings are one the playing field together for the first time since Spring 2015 at St. Amant High School.
No. 21 Louisiana plays its final non-conference game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 18 in Lake Charles against McNeese. First pitch for the single game is set for 6 p.m.
The Ragin’ Cajuns return to Lamson Park for the weekend, hosting Georgia Southern in a Sun Belt series Saturday-Sunday, April 21-22.