The Louisiana/Arizona St. Super Regional Match-Up Position-By-Position
The 14th-seeded Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns will square-off with the 3rd-seeded Arizona St. Sun Devils in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional softball series that begins on Thursday, in Tempe, Arizona.
Louisiana will come into the series with an overall record of 52-6, while Arizona St. stands at 49-8.
The Cajuns defeated the Sun Devils, 9-2, in the Judi Garman Classic, back on March 15 in Fullerton, California.
These are two teams that are used to winning, so it's a great match-up. Louisiana has made regional appearances every year, with the exception of one, since 1990, and are making their third Super Regional appearance in the last five years. Arizona St., well, they're the defending national champs, and they've won two national crowns in the last four years. Enough said.
Again, you won't see me write too many negative things. There's a reason why they're both in the Super Regionals, and that's because they're both great teams.
Let's go ahead and take a position-by-position look at the two teams:
Junior Matte Haack has been everything the Cajuns had hoped she would be this year, and more. Haack, a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection, is hitting a .335, with nine homers, and 53 RBI's. Haack's run production is no surprise, but the transfer from Arizona has hit for a higher average than most thought, and she's been real consistent the entire season.
Arizona St. has senior Annie Lockwood, who is hitting a .319, with nine homers, and 51 RBI's. Those are good stats, but they're down from her junior season, when she hit a .339, with 19 home runs, and 72 RBI's. Lockwood is a three-year starter, who was named to the Women's College World Series All-Tournament Team in 2011.
Paige Cormier, a fifth-year senior, should have won All-Conference honors. Cormier hit a .295, but with a .409 on-base percentage, to go along with 11 home runs, and 47 runs batted in. Cormier is overlooked, by the opposition, and even by some UL fans, but when she's swinging it well, as she is right now, the Cajun hitting attack can be lethal.
Junior Sam Parlich is a three-year starter for the Sun Devils. Parlich had a terrific 2011 season, batting a .303, with 13 homers, and 43 RBI's, but those numbers dropped to a .246 batting average, with one homer, and 22 RBI's this year. Parlich, for whatever reason, never seemed to get going this year, but as you can see from past performance, she's much better than her numbers indicate.
Oh man...we have a couple of GREAT players here! In my opinion, two of the top 20 players in the country.
For Louisiana, we have junior Nerissa Myers, who was once one of the most underrated players in the country, but she's finally starting the get the recognition she deserves. Myers, who was named a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference member, as well as a third-team All-American by College Sports Madness, was incredible this year. She hit a .375, with 13 homers, 79 RBI's, 21 stolen bases, and scored 80 runs, which is a new school, and conference record. Myers can beat you with the long ball, with the slap game, with her legs, and with her glove. She's one of the most exciting and electrifying players in the nation.
For Arizona St., Katelyn Boyd, a senior, is a finalist for National Player of the Year, and is much-deserved. She's hitting a .444, with 19 homers, 61 RBI's, and 21 stolen bases. Boyd is a four-year starter who the Cajuns will have to contain if they expect to win two games in Tempe. Like Myers, Boyd is really good, in every facet of the game. She's truly one of the elite players, currently, and in the rich history of Sun Devil softball.
How good has sophomore Natalie Fernandez been throughout the early part of her young UL career? Well, she's currently second, all-time, in terms of career batting average in school history. Think about all the great players that have worn a Cajun uniform, and that kind of puts it in perspective. Fernandez finished second in the league in hitting, while earning first-team All-Conference honors, batting a .433, to go along with 20 stolen bases. Fernandez, who was primarily a second baseman and outfielder in her freshman year, had made the move to third base without a hitch this year, committing only six errors.
Freshman Haley Steele has provided the Sun Devils with some pop this year. She's hitting a .288, with 10 homers, and 39 RBI's, while striking out only 11 times. Steele has been just as impressive on the defensive side, committing only three errors all season.
(L-R) Katie Smith, Brianna Cherry, & Christi Orgeron
Was Katie Smith terrific for the Cajuns in the Lafayette, La. Regional, or what? Nine hits, in three games! Actually, Smith, the fifth-year senior, has been pretty special all year, and throughout her career. She's a four-year starter, who led the conference in hitting, with a .444 average, garnering All-Conference honors. Smith has an on-base percentage of .507, and has swiped 22 bases. And when it comes to defense, as Bum Phillips would say; "She's not in a class by herself, but it sure don't take long to call role."
Arizona St. senior Talor Haro, like Smith, gets overlooked, because she's a slapper. Like Smith, she has only one career homer. But like Smith, Haro hits for average and plays defense. Haro is batting a a .346, after hitting a .366 a year ago, plus she hasn't made an error in two years.
Junior Brianna Cherry came into her own this year for Louisiana, hititng a .351, with seven homers, and 44 RBI's. I thought Cherry would take a huge step forward this year, but her consistency has been nothing short of amazing.
Arizona St. freshman Elizabeth Caporuscio emerged early in her career, after hitting a .339, with 15 home runs, and 49 RBI's. Caparuscio is only going to get better, and she's a future star.
UL senior Christi Orgeron, the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, is a finalist for National Player of the Year. Orgeron is hitting a .366, with 22 homers, and 94 RBI's, which leads the nation. She also has an .829 slugging percentage. Orgeron gets her share of publicity, but she's actually underrated, in terms of her defense and base running. She's a lot better athlete than most people think. Orgeron is one of the few players in the country that can carry a team on her back in a Super Regional series, so ASU is going to have to contain the fifth-year senior.
Sophomore Alix Johnson may not be a National Player of the Year like Orgeron, but she's pretty good in her own right. She hit a .366 as a freshman, and followed that up this year with an outstanding sophomore campaign, batting a .419, with ten homers, and 46 RBI's. Johnson is a dangerous hitter who the Cajuns will have to keep from going off.
Sarah Draheim has been a fixture behind the plate for Louisiana for the last two years, and the junior earned second-team All-Conference honors this year, after batting a .250, with seven homers, and 53 RBI's. Draheim has come through with some big hits in her career, and tends to hit in the clutch, as her RBI totals would attest. Draheim draws walks, drives homes runs, and can hit the ball out of the park. If she's swinging well, she can make an already potent offense that much better.
Freshman Amber Freeman is another terrific looking young player on the ASU roster. Freeman is hitting a .353, with 11 homers, and 38 RBI's. She's another young hitter that's going to terrorize Pac-12 pitching for years to come.
Erikka Murphy (right)
Senior Erikka Murphy is only hitting a .246, but Murphy has the speed and athletic ability to create havoc. I don't know what it is, probably because I know how good Murphy can be when she's playing well, but I'm just expecting Murphy come up big against Arizona St.
Arizona St. has a couple of options for the designated hitter/designated player spot. Bethany Kemp, a freshman, who is hitting a .323 in limited action, and Christina Zambra a senior, who hit nine homers.
Jordan Wallace (left) and Ashley Brignac (right)
Louisiana is blessed with two "aces", in senior Ashley Brignac and freshman Jordan Wallace. Brignac, the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, 23-3, with a 2.02 era., while Wallace, the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, is 26-1, with a 2.10 era. Wallace was in the circle when the Cajuns defeated the Sun Devils back on March, but they'll need both to be at the top of their game if they expect to win the series in Tempe.
Arizona St. will counter with sophomore Dallas Escobedo and senior Hillary Bach. Escobedo is 22-5, with a 2.28 era., while Bach is 20-1, with a 1.62 era.
The one thing a notice, from the statistics, is the 81 walks that Escobedo has allowed, in 178 innings this year. By contrast, Wallace has allowed 60, and Brignac 51, in 173 innings each.
Now, Escobedo strikes out a lot of hitters (206), but she has the tendency to be wild, and UL may be able to take advantage of that.
Game one is scheduled for Thursday evening, at 9:05 (cdt).
Game two is slated for Friday evening, at 8:05 (cdt).
You can catch all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420, and espn1420.com.