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Cajuns Ready For Season Opener vs. Eastern Illinois

Louisiana shortstop Blake Trahan (courtesy ragincajuns.com)

No one is questioning the talent on the 2014 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team.

But Friday fans will get to see it for the first time.

Louisiana (43-20 in 2013) will take on Eastern Illinois (22-27) of the Ohio Valley Conference in a four game series to open the 2014 season.  Game one is scheduled for 6pm Friday with a Saturday doubleheader beginning at noon.  Sunday’s single game is at 1pm.

PROJECTED PITCHING MATCHUPS

FRIDAY:   EIU:  Jake Johansmeier-RHP (3-4, 3.70 ERA in 2013)

UL:  Austin Robichaux-RHP (9-2, 3:05 ERA in 2013

SATURDAY GAME ONE:  EIU: Matt Borens-RHP (4-4, 4.30 ERA in 2013

UL: Carson Baranik (Miami Dade College/LSU

GAME TWO:  EIU:Christian Slaznik-LHP (6-6, 4.50 in 2012)

UL: Greg Milhorn-RHP (NE Texas CC/Arkansas

SUNDAY:  EIU:  Troy Barton -RHP (9-5, 3.20 ERA in 2012)

UL:   Cody Boutte:  LHP (8-4, 5.30 ERA in 2013)

The Panthers welcome back Slaznik and Barton, both of whom missed the entire 2013 season with injuries.  The depleted pitching staff  forced coach Jim Schmitz to move projected closer Joe Greenfield to the starting rotation, where he went 3-6 with a 3.66 ERA. He moves back to the bullpen this year.

Offensively, six starters return for the Panthers, including their top two hitters, Caleb Howell (.362-2-20, 27 BB, 16K) and Brant Valach (.332-4-35).  Schmitz, like Louisiana coach Tony Robichaux, is entering his twentieth season with his respective school.

Louisiana, meanwhile, returns a potent lineup featuring five pre-season all-Sun Belt performers, including pre-season player of the year Caleb Adams (.339-16-55) and eight starters overall.  The Cajuns return players who combined for 120 doubles, 16 triples, 61 homers and 62 stolen bases.  Six of the projected starters batted over .300 last season.  The Cajuns hitters will be tested by the veteran pitchers of EIU this weekend.

But the Cajuns pitching staff has plenty of talent.  Junior Austin Robichaux is the pre-season pitcher of the year in the Sun Belt after being named a first team all-conference performer a year ago.  The Cajuns return seven pitchers who accounted for 31 wins and just 13 losses, to go along with 17 saves.

All four games will be heard on 96.5 KPEL.  Airtime is 6pm Friday, 11:30am Saturday and 12:30pm Sunday.

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