The Grind: A Weekly Inside Look At Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball
Looking for a way to keep up with the Cajuns? Welcome to "The Grind," your weekly inside look at Ragin' Cajuns Baseball.
Each and every week, I will deliver the goods from the diamond and in the dugout. Cajun Nation set another record for season tickets, the team is picked to win the Sun Belt Conference, and there will be story lines to follow and games to prepare for all the way to another Super Regional. Tony Robichaux likes to call his men grinders, so let's stick with them throughout the grind. Did I mention this series will be fan-friendly?
Imagine "The Grind" as your season companion. Missed some of last week's action? We will have you covered, plus a "Grinder of the Week" will be named in every episode.
Let's get your appetite for baseball going. Ready for opening week?
Coach Robe's group of grinders invite Sam Houston State into town, and they are led by former Cajun hitting coach Matt Deggs. He helped build a champion here in Lafayette, and the Bearkats hope he can do the same as the new captain of the ship.
Deggs is sure to get a warm welcome back to the Tigue from his former players and most of the fans, but that doesn't mean they want him to succeed. In other series, he can expect some support from the folks in Lafayette, but on opening weekend he should expect a heaping plate of solid, competitive baseball and some jeers from Section A.
Sam Houston State is familiar with postseason play, so they will be a solid first test for a team with sky-high expectations.
The usual suspects for the Cajuns should be up to no good again. Gunner Leger still start on Friday, Wyatt Marks will command the mound on Saturday, but there is a surprise starter on Sunday. Freshman Nick Lee gets the nod for his first career start as a Cajun, and Evan Guillory will take the first road test of the season against Louisiana Tech. Lee is only one fantastic freshman.
Coach Robichaux said Hogan Harris, a local product out of St. Thomas More, is a possible fifth starter, but he will see a lot of action out of the bullpen as well. He adds another interesting story line to a deep pool of arms. Can last year's surprises avoid a sophomore slump? Who will step up as a veteran leader out of the bullpen? Is all the buzz around Reagan "Big Thunder" Bazar legit? So many questions, and we will start to get answers to all of them.
Run support will help whoever is on the mound, but who will be the players providing the pop?
Stefan Trosclair and Kyle Clement were named to the preseason All-Sun Belt Team, and Coach Robe has a plethora of options when it comes to the lineup (and the field).
In terms of a newcomer to watch, Steven Sensley arrived on UL's campus with some Paul Bunyan-like folklore surrounding him. As Associate Head Coach Anthony Babineaux told me, "He might hit a few balls all the way to Joey's." For those of you who aren't familiar with Joey's location, that's beyond the walls of The Tigue, all the way over the track complex and across the street. In short, he can crush the ball.
Preseason rankings and national polls don't matter anymore. It's time to show and prove.
All season long, we will share in the season together. We'll see you out at "The Tigue," and keep drinking from that water hose.