The 5th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team opens up Sun Belt Conference play this weekend, hosting the South Alabama Jaguars, in a big three-game series at Lamson Park.

If Louisiana is going to win, and maybe even sweep the series, shortstop D.J. Sanders will likely play a big role.

Last season, Sanders worked her magic with her glove, leading Sun Belt Conference shortstop in fielding percentage, while committing only four errors in the regular season over 125 chances.

Largely because of her superior defensive work, Sanders was a USA Softball Junior National Team selection, helping that team capture a gold medal.

Now a sophomore, Sanders has elevated her offensive game this season, and has become a force, both at the plate, and on the field.

It's not like Sanders didn't generate any offense last season however, hitting a .290, to go along with 4 home runs, 27 runs batted in, a .408 on-base percentage, and a .420 slugging percentage.

A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Sanders got better as the year went along in 2015, hitting three home runs in the final five regular season games, while posting a hit in 13 of her final 20 games.

Hitting a .320 from April through the end of the season, Sanders continued her exploits in the postseason, generating five hits, which ranked third on the team.

This season, Sanders has elevated her game even more, hitting a .388, to go along with 7 homers, 22 RBI's, a .492 on-base percentage, and an .857 slugging percentage.

On a team filled with All-American caliber bats, Sanders currently ranks second on the squad in home runs, RBI's, and slugging percentage, while ranking third in on-base percentage.

The thing about Sanders is that she's only going to get better.

Without question, Nerissa Myers, a former All-American, is one of the best to ever play the shortstop position at UL.

Myers hit only one homer in her freshman season of 2010, and one more in her sophomore season of 2011, before slamming 13 long balls with 78 RBI's in her junior campaign of 2012.

College softball, and baseball too, for that matter, are different than Major League Baseball. That may seem obvious, but people forget, in MLB, they develop their players by giving them time in the minor leagues.

In college softball, you have to throw somebody into the fire, like the Cajuns did with Sanders last year, and hope she develops while learning on the fly.

Sanders has certainly taken that extra step, and playing for this program, under the guidance of the best hitting coach in the country, she's likely to only get better.

Sanders, right now, is ahead of where Myers was in her sophomore year at the plate, on pace to hit 21 homers, while driving in 66 runs.

Again, that's saying something, as Myers was one of the more electrifying players to ever play at Lamson Park.

Sanders is good right now, but when her time is up at UL, she may be known as one of those special players that are remembered so fondly, like a Myers.

Right now, the Cajuns are just glad to have D.J. Sanders.

Louisiana takes on South Alabama in a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 2 pm, before a single to wrap-up the series on Sunday afternoon at 1 o'clock.