Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun softball team will begin their 2016 regular season schedule this weekend, when they take part in the Sand Dollar Classic in Foley, Alabama.

This season, Louisiana returns 8 starting position players, as well as two pitchers, from a team that went 42-12 as season ago, including a regular season Sun Belt Conference championship, and a fourth-consecutive appearance in an NCAA Super Regional, including their fifth in the last six years, and their sixth in the last eight years.

Once again in 2016, Louisiana, ranked #11 in the country, is expected to be the team to beat in the Sun Belt Conference, as they work towards their goal of heading back to Oklahoma City and the Women's College World Series for the second time in three years.

Over the next four days, we'll preview the 2016 edition of the Cajuns.

Today, we look at the pitching staff, which may be the deciding factor in how good Louisiana is this season.

The Cajuns will have to replace right-handers Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton, ho combined to go 30-9, over 217 innings, a season ago.

UL returns junior right-hander Alex Stewart, a second team all-league pick in 2015, after compiling an overall record of 10-2, to go along with a 2.09 ERA., which ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference.

A native of Zionsville, Indiana, Stewart went unbeaten in her first 15 appearances, including her first 10 decisions of 2015, while also recording 5 of Louisiana's final 10 conference wins.

Junior right-handers Kylie Jo Trahan, Macey Smith, and Victoria Brown are also back, along with freshman right-hander Summer Ellyson, and redshirt-freshman lefty Allison Deville.

Trahan, a sophomore from Burkburnett, Texas, appeared in 14 games last season, accumulating a 2-1 record, along with a 3.35 ERA.

Brown, a junior, missed last season, recovering from injuries, after going a combined 15-3 in the 2013-2014 seasons. The La Porte, Texas native has recorded 73 strikeouts over 110 innings of work in her UL career.

Smith, a junior from Houston, Texas, started two games in 2014, compiling a 6.54 ERA. in 20.1 innings inside the circle.

Deville, a First Team All-State selection for Port Barre High School in 2014, is the lone left-hander on the Louisiana staff this season.

Ellyson, a First Team All-State pick for Teurlings Catholic High School in 2015, recorded 613 strikeouts in the final two seasons of her prep career.

Louisiana will open their season on Friday, taking on Ball St. (3 pm) and UAB (6 pm) in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

UL will open their home schedule on Friday, February 19, in the first day of play in the Louisiana Classics.