The 22nd-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team will take on the Illinois St. Redbirds on Friday, in their first game in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Florida.

The Louisiana/Illinois St. match-up will take place on Friday at 11 am (cdt).

Illinois St., members of the Missouri Valley Conference, is 3-6 on the season, but that record is very misleading, as the Redbirds have played an extremely difficult early season schedule.

Five of their six losses have come to ranked teams, in Florida (3-2), Michigan (7-1), Washington (9-1), Oklahoma (11-6), and Arizona St. (4-2).

Offensively, the Redbirds are hitting a .204 with 6 home runs and 29 RBI's.

Seniors Colby Hoffman and Lauren Canopy lead the way for Illinois St., both hitting a .261 on the season. Canopy, was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 2013, leading the league in runs batted in, with 44, while hitting a.352 and ten homers.

In the circle, the Redbirds feature senior right-hander Taylor Baxter, who is 1-3 on the year, with a 6.61 ERA., after going 15-8 with a 3.15 ERA. last year, along with sophomore right-hander Regan Romshek, who is 2-3 with a 3.74 ERA., after going 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA. as a freshman a year ago.

Coming off of a 28-20 record in 2013, Illinois St. is a dangerous team. They aren't a power team, but have a couple of players that can hit the ball out of the park. They aren't going to steal 70 bases, but have a couple of players that can swipe a bag. Plus, they have two solid, if unspectacular pitchers, who they play solid defense behind.

Last year, the Cajuns defeated the Redbirds, 8-5, in the NFCA Leadoff Classic, and lost to them, 4-3, in the Citrus Classic. Both were good games, and there is no reason to expect otherwise this year in Clearwater.

Louisiana will play twice on Friday, against Illinois St. at 11 am, and against James Madison at 1:30 pm.

The Cajuns will play twice more on Saturday, taking on Hofstra at 1:30 pm, and USF at 4 pm.

UL wraps-up play in the tournament on Sunday at 10 am, when they face Rutgers.

You can hear all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420, and, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to first-pitch for each game.