Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns softball team will begin the 2012 season where they usually end it.

Nationally ranked.

Louisiana is ranked 23rd in the USA Today poll and 24th in the espn.com poll.

The Cajuns return eight position players from last years' squad which went to the regional finals and posted a 51-11 overall record.  The offense will again be led by Christi Orgeron (.414-23-100) along with shortstop Nerissa Myers and outfielder Katie Smith.

Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Ashley Brignac returns as the top pitcher for the Cajuns.

In an exclusive interview with Steve Peloquin Tuesday morning on "Thinking Out Loud," co-head coaches Stefni and Michael Lotief said Arizona transfer Mattie Haack will take over for the departed Gabby Bridges at first base.  It was also announced that pitcher Christina Hamilton and infielder Taryn Broussard will both redshirt this year because of injuries.  Courtney Hollier, who sat out last season after transferring from LSU, has given up softball because of chronic back problems.

The #2 pitching spot behind Brignac is undecided as of now, but Coach Lotief said freshman Maggie Ham is slightly ahead of the others for that position.

The Cajuns open the season against Rutgers Feb. 10th as part of the 26th annual Louisiana Classics Tournament at Lamson Park.

Ragin' Cajuns softball can be heard on espn1420.  Selected games will be broadcast on 960am KROF.