Big Week Ahead For UL Softball
The 8th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team will play six Sun Belt Conference games over a six-day time-span this week, a stretch which could not only give them the upper-hand in terms of winning yet another Sun Belt Conference regular season championship, but could also put them in a position to host a regional, and possibly even a super regional.
Louisiana, who is an astonishing 33-1 overall on the year, and 8-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, sits atop the league standings.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, they'll be in Miami, Florida, to take on the FIU Panthers, in a critical series.
FIU, while not a great team, is certainly capable. They're 19-16 overall, and in second place in the Sun Belt Conference, with a 7-3 league mark.
This series won't be easy.
FIU is normally tough at home, and besides the fact that they are normally pretty good, a big reason why they are is that most of the teams in the league have to fly in to Miami, as the Cajuns are doing.
If you think that flying doesn't take anything out of you, especially when you fly to another time zone, think again.
FIU is waiting to give UL their best shot, and the Cajuns will have to play well to beat them.
We've seen in every conference series that Louisiana has played this year that there are no gimmes, and this one, because of who they're playing, and where they're playing them, could be the toughest one yet.
Back in 2010, the year the Cajuns went to a Super Regional, they dropped 2-of-3 to the Panthers in Miami.
The Panthers have one of the best players in the conference in Ashley McClain, and this is going to be their World Series.
There's only one team that has any kind of chance to catch UL in the conference race, and that team is FIU. The chance is remote, but there is a chance.
This weekend (Saturday & Sunday), the Cajuns will be in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee is only 12-18 overall, and 2-7 in league play, but as we've seen already, strange things can happen in conference play, and remember, this will be the last two days of a week-long trip for Louisiana.
And by week-long trip, I don't just mean that they will play all of their games on the road this week. I mean that they will be on the road, without coming home, for an entire week.
A week away from home, sleeping in a strange bed, away from familiar surroundings, is bound to take a toll on anybody.
This scheduling was necessary, as UL was scheduled to travel to FIU the weekend they went to the Judi Garman Classic, so they had to move it, and with the girls being on Spring Break this week, it worked out.
If the Cajuns win 5-of-6 this week, the conference race will be all but over.
Let's say they win 2-of-3 against FIU. That would give the Cajuns a three-game lead over everybody in the conference, and give them the tiebreaker advantage over FIU, South Alabama, North Texas, and Troy, who many consider four of the top six teams in the league.
Louisiana was sixth in the last rpi ranking, which were released last Monday (new rankings are due out today), so they have a legitimate shot to host not only a regional, but a super regional as well, in post-season play.
If they finish 46-4/47-3, and win the SBC Tournament, I don't see them falling out of the top ten, and if they go 5-1, or even better, 6-0 this week, I think they'd reach one of those aforementioned goals.
Conference-wise, after this week, the Cajuns would have nine games remaining, with six of those coming at home against teams with non-winning records (FAU & ULM).
Granted, they have to go on the road to play a solid WKU club, but if they come out of this week no worse than 5-1 then I feel confident that they'll not only win the league, but finish with an rpi in the top ten.
Obviously, I'd love for them to go 6-0 for the week, and I think it's possible, but if they go 5-1 I'll be one happy camper at week's end, and not just because I'll finally be back home.
UL plays a doubleheader on Tuesday against FIU. The first game will air on Sports Radio ESPN 1420, and espn1420.com, beginning with the pre-game show, at 2;40 pm, with first-pitch set for 3 pm.
the second game on Tuesday will be aired on Talk Radio 960 am (talkradio960.com)