No. 22 Louisiana (31-12, 16-5 Sun Belt) at UTA (24-20, 12-8 Sun Belt)
Dates: Saturday-Sunday, April 28-29, 2018
Location: Arlington, Texas
Stadium: Allan Saxe Field (622)
Apr. 28 – 1 p.m. (DH)
Apr. 29 – 12 p.m. (single)
Radio: ESPN 1420-AM• Talent: Steve Peloquin, PxP
Streaming Video ($): Mavericks All-Access
Twitter Updates: @RaginCajunsSB
SETTING THE SCENE
22nd-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball plays its final road series of the season Saturday-Sunday, April 28-29 facing UTA at Allan Saxe Field in Arlington, Texas.
Louisiana (31-12, 16-5 Sun Belt) has a chance to secure one of the Top 2 seeds for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which guarantees a bye from opening day action. The Ragin’ Cajuns carry a 3-1/2 game edge over third-place UTA (24-20, 12-8 Sun Belt) into the weekend series.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have placed themselves in a position to receive an opening-day bye in the SBC Tournament by claiming all seven previous league series competed in this season.
It’s Louisiana’s first road weekend series since the Georgia State series held April 7-8 in Atlanta.
As Louisiana enters the final stretch run of the season, Summer Ellysonhas been at her best. The reigning Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week worked 25 innings last week and yielded a single run.
The offense has reached double figure hits seven times in April (out of 13 games). In conference games during the month, the squad is hitting .336 and averaging 10-plus hits per outing.
Fans can listen to the entire series on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM in the Acadiana region and worldwide on the ESPN 1420 app. Live video (fees apply) can be accessed through links on the softball schedule page at RaginCajuns.com.
SERIES HISTORY (Louisiana leads, 24-5)
• Fifth Sun Belt series overall between the Ragin’ Cajuns and Mavericks. This is the third SBC set in Arlington (2014, 2016, 2018).
• Louisiana holds an 11-1 advantage in the Sun Belt Conference era.
• Programs first met as Southland Conference foes from 1983-87.
• Series resumed when UTA joined Sun Belt in 2014 and the teams met in the initial SBC series in Arlington in April 2014 – hadn’t met since March 1990 doubleheader at Lamson Park.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Infield: The left side is anchored by veteran third baseman Kara Gremillionand sophomore transfer Alissa Dalton(Oklahoma) at shortstop, both preseason All-Sun Belt selections. The duo has combined for 178 assists and only 16 errors in a combined 271 chances. On the right side, Kourtney Gremillion(Kara’s sister) covers first base while freshman Casidy Chaumontclaimed 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 has also seen time in center field with the addition of Kalyn Watts, who platoons with her in left field, to the lineup for added power. Aeriyl Massgives the Cajuns a speed option in center field for late-game defensive situations. Brittany Rodriguezhas settled back into right field.
Pitchers: Sophomore Summer Ellysonhas 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 Dixonprovides an additional option to start a contest and teamed with Ellyson on the weekend in the early stages of Sun Belt play. Carrie Boswellhas been the first called up in relief duty in recent weeks. SeniorKylee Jo Trahanreturned 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 Comeauxleads the group. FreshmanCaitlin Garciaand sophomore Beth Ashleyhave also seen time behind the plate. Comeaux, who started all 55 games in 2017, has resumed the primary catcher’s role.
THE STRETCH RUN: The countdown is on to postseason play. Only two weekends, and a total of six games, remain until the Sun Belt Conference postseason tournament set for May 9-12 at Lamson Park.
KEY SERIES: The Louisiana-UTA matchup presents different opportunities for both squads. The Ragin’ Cajuns have a chance to lock up a Top 2 spot in the SBC Tournament. The Mavericks can inch a little closer and remain in contention heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
PLATE WARS: The matchup at the plate between Ragin’ Cajuns hitters and Mavericks pitchers could tell the story in the series. Louisiana strikes out the least among SBC schools while UTA pitchers tend to pitch to contact.
STIRRING IT UP: The Ragin’ Cajuns are hitting .324 in April and key to the success has been the trio of Alissa Dalton(.457), Lexie Comeaux(.421) and Kara Gremillion(.421) who are each hitting above .400 during the timeframe.
STOPPING ‘EM IN THEIR TRACKS:Summer Ellysonhas surrendered just one run in regulation play over the past 32 innings. In 13-1/3 innings of regulation play vs. Texas State, Ellyson yielded just the one run. She followed up with 18-2/3 scoreless innings in games with McNeese and Georgia Southern last week.
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 28 outings of three strikeouts or less through 43 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 eight individuals having totals ranging from 11 up to 25.
STANDING THEIR GROUND: Ragin’ Cajuns pitchers have limited the opposition to a .189 batting average. The unit has been stingier in Sun Belt play, with league foes limited to a .169 average.
SUMMER’S STEADY:As she settles into the role as the Ragin’ Cajuns lead pitcher, Summer Ellysonhas provided consistent results. She has yielded no more than three earned runs in 20 of her 23 starts. She’s turned in 17 outings with five-plus strikeouts and leads the Sun Belt Conference with a .169 opposing batting average.
ANSWERING THE CALL:The Ragin’ Cajuns have responded extremely well to each of its four losses in April. The squad has outscored foes 35-7 and hit .435 in the four wins combined following a defeat.
• Louisiana has won 44 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’ssquad checked in at No. 22 this week.
• Summer Ellysoncarries string of 22 consecutive scoreless innings pitched into the UTA series. She had a hand in both shutouts in last weekend’s Georgia Southern series.
• Alissa Dalton and Brittany Rodriguez, who are paired in the lineup at either No. 1-2 or 3-4, rank Top 50 among the toughest to strikeout in the nation. The duo has only struck out 11 times over a combined 315 plate appearances.
• Alissa Dalton, who recently pieced together a team-best 14-game hitting streak, has hit safely in 15 of the past 16 games. She’s collected 26 hits and is hitting .456 during the stretch.
• Brittany Rodriguezis closing in on 200 career hits at the Division I level. Rodriguez, who picked up 151 hits over two seasons at Lamar, has generated 44 this season increasing her career total to 195.
• With one more RBI, Kara Gremillionwill become the sixth Ragin’ Cajun to reach 20 RBI this season and reach the mark for the third time in her career.
• Kara Gremillionleads the Cajuns with a .410 average and eight multiple-hit games in Sun Belt play.
• Lexie Comeaux’s19 RBI in Sun Belt Conference play are the second-most amongst all league players.
• In Sun Belt play, Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have produced at a higher rate in clutch situations. The unit is hitting .333 with runners in scoring position, .344 in two-out situations and has posted 43 two-out RBI.
• Louisiana’s pitching staff has held the opposition to a sub-.200 average in five of seven Sun Belt series.
• 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 on the playing field together for the first time since Spring 2015 at St. Amant High School.
No. 22 Louisiana concludes regular season play and celebrates Senior Weekend at Lamson Park Friday-Saturday, May 4-5. The Ragin’ Cajuns meet in-state foe ULM in a Sun Belt series which starts with a 7 p.m. single game Friday and wraps up with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.
The Senior Day ceremony will take place on Saturday after the conclusion of the doubleheader.
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