UL Softball Is A Special Group
I can use a lot of adjectives to describe the 8th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' softball team, but I think the one that fits the best would just be "special".
Louisiana ran their 2012 record to an astounding 28-0 on Thursday, with a doubleheader sweep of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Lamson Park, two wins that leave them as one of two unbeaten teams remaining in the country.
Yes, you have to be good, which the Cajuns are, to be 28-0, but you also have to be special, and this group is certainly that.
Look no farther than the first game as an example.
Georgia Tech scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning, and had an 8-1 lead.
I have to admit, I didn't give UL much of a chance to come back and win, and I basically said as much on the air.
Not only was I wrong, but I was proved wrong quickly, as the Cajuns hit Georgia Tech with an eight-run barrage in the bottom of the fourth, to take a 9-8 lead, in an inning that many will be talking about at the end of the year.
As hitter-after- hitter reached base for Louisiana in the bottom of the inning, I kept reminding myself, more than anybody else, that with UL's offense, and with their character, that they had a shot. Later, when Sarah Draheim hit the first of her two home runs to give the Cajuns a 9-8 lead, I said; "I told you it wasn't over!"
Obviously, there was some sarcasm there, along with amazement, but I was really scolding myself. Shame on me! I've been around this team long enough to know how special they are.
UL head football coach Mark Hudspeth would've been disappointed in me, because I let go of the rope.
Trust me, it won't happen again.
Oh sure, I'm still impressed with the come-from-behind win, and how can you not be? Teams aren't supposed to win after being down 8-1 in the fourth! And we're talking Georgia Tech here! They may not be an Alabama, or a UCLA, but they have four wins over ranked teams this season, including Oklahoma, Arizona, and Georgia, who have all been ranked in the top ten.
The Yellow Jackets regained the lead, scoring a couple of runs in the fifth, to take a 10-9 advantage, but the Cajuns scored three in the bottom of the sixth, giving them a 12-10 lead, and then hung on for the 12-11 victory.
I tell you, softball is a long season. Over the course of 55-65 games, you're just not going to remember all of them. This one I will, as will most that attended.
Again, this is a talented Louisiana team. They have certainly have one of, if not the best offense in the country. They have speed, power, defense, pitching, and experience.
Yes, they have all those ingredients, and you have to, to be 28-0, but you also have to just be special, and this team is.
This bunch trailed Kentucky, 4-1, back on March 4, and scored four runs in the seventh inning to come back and win.
UL trailed Houston, 4-0, in the fifth inning, on the road, on March 7, and came back to win, 12-7, in nine innings.
The Cajuns trailed North Texas, 6-1, in the bottom of the fourth inning, in the first game of a doubleheader on March 10, and came back to win, 7-6, and then trailed the Mean Green, 5-2, in the seventh inning in the second game, before tying it with three runs in the last inning, and then going on to win in extra frames, 6-5.
Sure this team has talent, but there's just something special about a team that comes back like that.
They have character, moxie, mental toughness, and just a whole lot of guts.
They trust themselves, and each other, and they fight until the last out, never believing they're out of it.
I believe that has a lot to do with experience. This team has a number of upper-classmen, a number of fifth-year seniors, who have been around the game, and each other, for awhile, and know what it takes to win.
This group also has amazing team chemistry. They genuinely like one another, and really do play the game as a team. They also really do care more about wins and loses, as opposed to individual statistics.
I believe that players take on the personality of their coaches, and Michael and Stefni Lotief are competitive, and will give 100% until the end, and so will their players.
They're just special!
So, how long is this win streak going to last? Well, they've defied the odds so far. I mean, this is crazy!They've been due to lose for at least the last 14 games, so why not keep it going for at least a few more!?
I'll say this though; if they don't win another game this year (don't worry, they will), I'll always remember this amazing streak to begin the year.
It has to end sometime, but it sure has been fun!
I'm often asked how far I think this team can go, and the answer is I don't know. And I mean that. I mean, this team is really good, and can go a long way, but it's impossible to predict, because we don't know how they'll be playing at the end of the year, nor who, or where they'll be playing.
I think this is certainly a Women's College World Series-caliber team, but you can't project that type of stuff in late March. Besides, if you're looking ahead to post-season too soon, you're not enjoying the moment with this team. They have done something no other team in the history of this great program has done, so as fans, enjoy it!
It's been special, and this softball team is special.
Speaking of special, congratulations to senior outfielder Christi Orgeron, who broke the school and conference record, by driving in her 249th career run with a grand slam homer on Thursday night.
Orgeron's rbi total surpasses that of another special player, Danyele Gomez, who accumulated 247 career rbi's, through the 2003-2006 seasons. Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine anyone breaking Gomez' record, but Orgeron did, and she still has close to a half season to play!
This weekend, Louisiana travels to Troy, Alabama, to take on the Troy Trojans, in a three-game, weekend, Sun Belt Conference series, with a doubleheader on Saturday, and a single contest on Sunday.
Troy is a solid team, who is well-coached. They're 19-7 overall, and are traditionally very tough at home.
They also would love nothing better than to hand the Cajuns their first loss of the year.
Louisiana will have to play well this weekend to keep the win streak going. It's hard to win in conference. As evidence, the Cajuns have won 10-of-11 conference championships, but haven't been 6-0 in Sun Belt Conference play since back in 2005.
So, UL will be looking to defy the odds and add more wins to their win streak, and you know what?...I'm not betting against them.
It's almost impossible not to like this team, it really is.
Am I a Cajun fan? Yes...so I'd be pulling for just about anybody that was wearing one of their uniforms. But this team is a group that is as impressive off-the-field as they are on it, and from a personal point of view, it's great to see a group that represents themselves, the university, and the community with so much class and integrity have their hard work pay off in such a big way.
There's a lot of season left however, so here's hoping it continues!
I sure hope you're enjoying this special team having this special year, because I sure am!