Should UL Softball Have Been Picked 2nd?
Should the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns have been picked to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference standings for the upcoming 2018 college softball season?
That's what they were picked to finish by the ten coaches of the softball playing schools in the annual Sun Belt Conference softball preseason coaches' poll.
Look, a preseason coaches' poll doesn't mean anything. The championship will be decided on the field during the course of the year, not in a poll.
That being said, I think they got the vote wrong.
Now, don't get me wrong; I get the reasoning for not picking the Cajuns.
First of all, Louisiana lost a lot of talent from last year's squad, including seniors Hayley Hayden, Alex Stewart, and Kassidy Zeringue, along with All-Americans Aleah Craighton and DJ Sanders, who elected to transfer, and Alyssa Denham, who also decided to transfer.
All of those young ladies were All-Sun Belt selections, and none will be back this year.
Really, what UL lost was two outfielders, their starting middle infield, and their top two pitchers.
That would hurt any team.
Secondly, the Cajuns underwent a coaching change at a very unfortunate time.
Coach Gerry Glasco and his staff are still playing catch-up.
Thirdly, Texas St. is very good.
The Bobcats have Randi Rupp, the Preseason Pitcher of the Year, and Ariel Ortiz, the Preseason Player of the Year, so the Texas St. argument is a more than valid one.
Texas St. head coach Ricci Woodard has done a fantastic job, which became even more evident when UTA elected to have former Bobcats assistant Peejay Brun replace Kristie Fox, who left to become the head coach at UNLV.
Again, nothing against Texas St. They have arguably the best pitcher in the conference, arguably the best position player in the league, and a coaching staff I greatly respect.
They're a legitimate top-25 team, capable of advancing deep into the postseason.
This is not a "why would you pick Texas St.?" thing. It's more of a "why would you not pick Louisiana?" thing.
Which brings me to my last reason why some might not pick the Cajuns. They're tired of them winning, and they want to pick someone else.
NBA fans got tired of the Chicago Bulls winning in the 1990's, and NFL fans are tired of the New England Patriots winning as much as they do now.
I get all of that. I still just don't agree with the vote.
Understand; when you pick against Louisiana, you're picking against history.
Understand; when you pick against Louisiana, you're picking against a dynasty.
The Cajuns have won all but two regular season conference titles in the history of the league, including 4-straight, and 9 of the last 10.
Over the last six seasons, Louisiana has gone a combined 123-14 in conference play, and has gone four-straight seasons without losing a single conference series.
Just understand; if you bet against UL, the odds are most definitely against you.
Like preseason coaches' polls, preseason all-conference teams don't mean much either.
That being said; Louisiana is represented by four players (Lexie Comeaux, Alissa Dalton, Kara Gremillion, and Kelli Martinez), the most in the league.
South Alabama, who I really like, and view as a legitimate contender, and UTA each put three players on the team, while Texas St., the preseason pick by the coaches, put two on the squad.
Not only that, but the Cajuns have some talented newcomers, like Casidy Chaumont, Brittany Holland, Jolie Readeaux, and Brittany Rodriguez, who will not only help UL, but could help any team in the conference.
Do I think the Cajuns are going to go through the conference schedule with only one loss this year?
As a matter of fact, I wouldn't bet on Louisiana finishing with only one conference loss this year, because the odds would be against me, just like they are against you if you pick anybody but the Cajuns.
Is Louisiana winning the league a gimme?
Certainly not! They have some questions, and the league, I believe, is going to be better.
Texas St., South Alabama, Georgia St., and UTA are all threats to contend, and I can see anybody else, on any given day, capturing a win over UL, or any other team in the league.
But really; are you actually going to vote against Louisiana?
Are you really going to vote against history?
Are you really going to vote against a school that went 23-1 in league play last year?
Are you really going to vote against a team that has the most players on the preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team?
Are you really going to vote against a team that hosts Texas St. and South Alabama, two of their biggest threats, after not losing one single home game since 2015, and has not lost a home series since 2013?
I guess, at least for the coaches, the answer to those questions are "yes", and at the end of the year, they may be proven right.
I just don't see how, based on history, and on current roster talent, you can pick against the Cajuns.
I'm sure not going to.
I'm sticking with the odds.
My pick, which granted, doesn't mean much, is Louisiana.