Today, in part three of my 2012 Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball preview, I take a look at a very experienced, and talented outfield.

Katie Smith will play left-field. The senior from Ruston, Louisiana was a major part of UL's 2008 College World Series squad, hitting a .370, with 20 stolen bases, while garnering All-Louisiana honors during her freshman year.

Smith had another strong sophomore campaign, hitting a .393, with 25 steals, and being named a 2nd-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection in a year in which she actually opened as the opening day second baseman before being moved back to the outfield.

Smith got off to a strong start in 2010, hitting a .350 through ten games, before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, and ending her season early.

She went on to rehab that injury for the remainder of the year, and was granted a medical red-shirt.

After a little bit of a subpar start, Smith came back last season with avengence last season, hitting a .352, with 20 stolen bases.

Two years removed from the knee surgery, I'm looking for Smith to have a big senior season. I'm expecting similar results to her sophomore season, with a batting average approaching .400, and over 20 steals.

Brianna Cherry, a junior from Petal, Mississippi will see a lot of time in centerfield. Cherry played sparingly as a freshman in 2010, but started 32 games in 2011, hitting a .239, with three home runs, and 12 rbi's.

Cherry is a a legitimate five-tool player, who has the opportunity to be truly special, if she puts it all together. She has power, speed, and a cannon for an arm.

I kind of have a feeling that 2012 will be Cherry's breakout season, and if it is, UL softball fans will truly enjoy her immense talent.

Christi Orgeron will the right-fielder.

All that needs to be said about Orgeron is that she is one of the best to put on a uniform in a program that is rich is tradition.

The New Orleans native red-shirted in 2008, and then hit a .312, with 10 homers, and 37 rbi's in her freshman year of 2009. Orgeron struggled early, but tore it up the second half of that season, and went on to be come an All-Louisiana selection, as well as being tabbed the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year.

Orgeron picked up right where she left off to begin 2010, getting off to a torrid start. She slumped a little in the second half of the year, due to injury and illness, but she still manged to hit a .307, with 15 home runs, and 56 rbi's, and went on to be named to the second team of both the All-Louisiana and All-Sun Belt Conference teams.

You just had the feeling that if Orgeron could stay healthy all year that she cold put up some possible All-American numbers in 2011.

Boy...did she ever!

Orgeron last season, with a season to remember. She hit a .414, with 23 homers, and 101 rbi's. That rbi total was not only a school and conference single-season record, but also the third most in NCAA history.

For her efforts, Orgeron was named the Sun belt Conference Player of the Year, and was a 3rd-team All-America selection.

Orgeron was recognized as a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 10 Finalist last year and is on the 2012 USA Softball Top 50 Watch List. She also was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA First Team All-Region, and helped team USA to a gold medal in the Pan-American Games in October 2011.
All that, and few people knew that Orgeron played with an injured wrist a season ago.

It will be hard for Orgeron to exceed, or even duplicate her amazing numbers from a season ago, simply because she had one of the best years in the history of the sport, but she'll undoubtedly put up some big time numbers, and she'll be one of the most feared hitters in the country.

Erikka Murphy, the senior from Victoria Texas, will see a lot of time as the designated player, but will also see time in the outfield.

Murphy is an incredible athlete that may have saved her best season for last.

Murphy hit a .292, with 13 stolen bases as a freshman in 2009, and then bettered that in 2010, with a .315 average and 33 stolen bases.

Last season, despite missing close to a month with a broken wrist, Murphy hit a .336, with 15 steals.

I'm looking for Murphy to have a really big year this season. I don't think a .350 batting average, with 30+ steals is out of the question.

Megan Waterman, a junior from Ashburn, Virginia, will provide some experienced depth in the outfield. Waterman was used mostly a a pinch-runner in 2011, but has some skills to produce, if the situation calls on it.

Sophomore Natalie Fernandez, who I talked about in the infield preview can also be used in the outfield. Fernandez started a few games there last season.

Megan Thomas, Codi Covington, Marie Hoag, and Codi Sullivan are all talented freshman that will contribute at some point in their UL careers, even if  most, or all, are red-shirted this year.

Thomas is a slapper/speedster from New Iberia high School, who was a three-time All-District selection, as well as a 2011 1st-team All-Acadiana pick.

Covington, another slapper who can fly, is from Denham Springs. She eclipsed over 30 steals in her senior year.

Hoag was named the class 3A Most Outstanding Player while prepping at Catholic-New Iberia last year.  She compiled a 10-2 record as a pitcher during her senior year, with a 0.71 ERA. She also batted .583 with 16 doubles, two triples and 26 RBIs.

Hoag is a terrific athlete and could play various positions, but at least now, I have her listed in the outfield. In time, she will be a good one.

Codi Sullivan, out of New Orleans, is another athletic freshman that has a bright future. Another slapper, Sullivan can really run.

I suspect at least a couple of the freshmen will be red-shirted, but because of their athleticism and speed, it's possible one or two could be pressed into pinch-running duties.

This outfield is one of the best in the entire nation. Combined, expect 30+ homers, and 50+ stolen bases from this group.

UL senior outfielder Christi Orgeron


Louisiana opens-up their 2012 regular season schedule this weekend, when they host the 26th Annual Louisiana Classics Tournament at Lamson Park.