UL Softball Travels To Face Georgia Southern – What Should You Look For?
The 8th-ranked Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajun softball team returns to the diamond this weekend, when they travel to Statesboro, Georgia to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles in a three-game, weekend, Sun Belt Conference series.
The two teams when are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday at noon (central time), followed by a single game on Sunday at noon..
You can hear all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420 & espn1420 .com beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to first-pitch, each day.
Louisiana, who is currently 35-6 on the season, and 16-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, can clinch a regular season conference championship with a couple of wins.
There are three fairly important things to look for if you're a Cajun fan this weekend.
First, and most importantly, capturing three wins. Again, two wins would clinch a regular season championship for Louisiana, and the top-seed in the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Postseason Tournament.
The Cajuns are also still in position to be named a top-8 National Seed in the postseason. They currently are ranked #10, in terms of RPI, and with wins the rest of the way, plus a little help, and a little luck, they can still manage to do that.
So, there are a couple of other things to look for, but picking up three wins is the most important thing.
Georgia Southern is in third place in the league standings, it will be a long trip to Statesboro, Georgia, and the long season has taken it's toll on everybody, so it won't be easy. But if there isn't an obstacle, then you haven't accomplished a whole lot.
Secondly, it would really be nice if Kylie Jo Trahan gives them some quality innings this weekend. Trahan, who has quality stuff, has struggled with her command over the last couple of weeks, and they need to get her right.
I think she finds herself over the next couple of weeks, I really do. She's a hard worker, and when she's right she's as good as anybody.
Trahan has also been pitching through a rib issue over the past couple of weeks. She'll get better simply by getting healthier.
Can teams, including UL, win in the postseason with only one pitcher? Yes, but it's a whole lot easier with two, so it's extremely important Trahan returns to form soon.
If the Cajuns win all three games this weekend, that's good, but if they win and Trahan returns to form, then that's even better.
Finally, it's going to be fun watching Lexie Elkins, D.J. Sanders, Aleah Craighton, and Shellie Landry battle for the Sun Belt Conference home run title this weekend, and over the last two weekends.
Elkins, who is injured, and will miss her fourth-consecutive weekend, has 17 home runs on the season, to lead the way in the conference. It's still possible she may play again in the regular season, but even if she doesn't she's still the leader, so she has a shot to finish as the league leader.
Craighton and Sanders each have 15 long balls, and are tied with Troy's Hannah Day for second place, and look to be the top candidates to surpass Elkins.
And don't count out Shellie Landry, who has 13. When Landry gets on a roll, like the one she's on now, she can hit homers in bunches, and she can do a lot of damage in 6 more regular season games.
Now, let's go inside the numbers and break down the series a little bit:
Louisiana is hitting a .341, along with 87 home runs, 301 runs batted in, and 43 stolen bases in 48 attempts, while out-scoring foes, 329-86.
The Cajuns have fiver players, in Elkins (17), Craighton (15), Sanders (15), and Landry (13), and Kelsey Vincent (10), who have hit double-digit home runs this season, while Sara Corbello has 9.
Excluding freshman Brittany Nollkamper, who is filling in for Elkins, every hitter in the Louisiana line-up is hitting a .287, or better, and 7 are hitting over a .300.
Georgia Southern is a dangerous team, and they can swing the bats, but they are 8th in the 9-team conference in team ERA., so their pitching staff has their work cut out for them this weekend, going up against a stacked Cajun line-up.
If Georgia Southern is going to win a game this weekend, they're going to have to keep the ball in the park, minimize walks, and their defense is going to have to limit the number of free bases the Cajuns get.
Pitching-wise, the Cajuns sport an overall, combined, team ERA. of 1.95, compared to a 8.79 for the opposition, while holding the opposition to a .216 batting average against.
Junior right-hander Alex Stewart is the ace of the UL staff, sporting a sparkling 20-3 record, along with a 1.68 ERA. In 142 innings pitched, Stewart has only walked 20 batters, while striking out 142.
Trahan, who is 10-3, to go along with a 2.41 ERA., could also see time in the circle this weekend.
UL’s only losses this year came at the hands of Oregon, UT-Arlington, Baylor, and Florida (three times).
Georgia Southern will enter the series with an overall record of 27-21, along with a league mark of 11-7.
The Eagles are hitting a .287 as a team, along with 38 home runs, 200 runs driven in, and 47 stolen bases in 52 attempts, while being out-scored by opponents, 245-227.
Freshman outfielder Lydia Witkowski leads the Georgia Southern offense, hitting a .337 with 2 home runs and 10 runs batted in.
Pitching-wise, the Eagles have a current, overall, combined, team ERA. of 4.42, while holding opponents to a .268 batting average against.
Freshman right-hander Dixie Raley is 20-10 with a 3.34 ERA., while sophomore right-hander Kierra Kamp is 6-10 with a 4.93 ERA.
As I mentioned earlier, Georgia Southern ranks 8th in ERA., but they do rank 4th in strikeouts, and have only allowed 30 homers, which ranks 5th in the league, and those numbers are big. For them the win, they have to limit the high-powered UL offensive attack, and to do that, they have to miss bats, and keep the Cajuns in the park.
Easier said than done.
A lot is on the line this weekend, and it should be fun.
Louisiana swept a three-game series from Georgia Southern last season, winning by scores of 8-2, 12-1, and 9-0 at Lamson Park.