UL Softball Weekly Review (Feb. 29)
The 6th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team had another big week last week, going 6-0, to improve their season record to an impressive 14-1, while increasing their current win streak to 8 games.
Louisiana swept a non-conference doubleheader over Texas Tech on Thursday, winning by scores of 6-2 and 11-5, before winning all four games in the Ragin' Cajuns Invitational over the weekend, defeating Rutgers twice, 8-0 and 12-0, and Alcorn St. twice, 12-0 and 9-0.
Make no mistake, while the Cajuns didn't beat a team last week the caliber of Oregon, who they defeated twice the week prior, but the 6 wins they posted shouldn't be taken for granted either.
Texas Tech is likely not an NCAA Regional team, but the Red Raiders are a team that is capable of accumulating some big wins in 2016.
All you have to do is look at their 2-0 win over California back on February 20, and their near-miss losses to LSU, 3-2, in 8 innings on Saturday, and 5-3 on Sunday, as just a few examples.
Texas Tech is a school in the Big XII, which features the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, and Baylor, so playing them, and capturing two wins over them, will do nothing but help your all-important RPI.
In my mind, the most impressive thing about those two wins was the pitching of junior right-hander Alex Stewart.
A native of Zionsville, Indiana, Stewart tossed all 14 innings in the twinbill, allowing 14 hits and 6 earned runs, while walking 2 and striking out 14.
The runs allowed, coupled with the innings pitched, would equate to a 3.00 ERA. over the two games.
Not exactly Clayton Kershaw stats, but then again, how would Kershaw's stats look if he had to pitch both ends of a doubleheader?
Stewart passed yet another test, in that she proved, if needed, that she could win you two games in the same day.
That might not seem like a big deal at this moment, but could be huge in a big conference series, or even, more importantly, in the conference tournament, or an NCAA Regional, or Super Regional.
So far in 2016, Stewart has been everything an "ace" is supposed to be.
The four wins over the weekend were to be expected. Rutgers is now 2-10, and Alcorn St. is 4-9, for a combined record of 6-19, but that doesn't make Louisiana's runaway wins any less impressive.
Coach Michael Lotief's philosophy is that his team competes more against themselves than they do against their opponents, and that philosophy certainly worked to their advantage over the weekend, as the Cajuns outscored the opposition in the four games, 41-0, while outhitting them, 43-3.
Sophomore right-handed Kylie Jo Trahan pulled off quite a feat, tossing back-to-back no hitters.
In an 8-0 UL win over Rutgers on Friday, Trahan pitched a 5-inning no-hitter, allowing 2 walks, while equaling a career-high with 10 strikeouts.
And what do the sophomore from Burkburnett, Texas do for an encore? Well, she only came right back on Saturday against Alcorn St. and pitched a 5-inning perfect game, striking out 9.
Back-to back no-hitters for Trahan! Eat your heart out Johnny Vander Meer!
Junior right-hander Victoria Brown, who is now 17-3 in her career, has a chance to pull of the Johnny Vander Meer feat in her next game, after tossing a 5-inning no-hitter against Alcorn St. on Sunday.
Only one batter reached on Brown, who struck out a career-high 10 batters, and that was on an error.
Maybe lost in the shadow of the exploits of Trahan and Brown was the performance of junior right-hander Macey Smith, who threw a 6-inning, three-hit shutout against Rutgers on Saturday.
A screwball specialist, Smith has improved dramatically over the last two years, and proved that she can rise to the challenge, if needed.
So, here's the UL pitching line for games over the weekend:
21 innings pitched, 3 hits, no runs, 3 walks, and 32 strikeouts.
Want some more pitching stats? How about four shutouts and three no-hitters, along with a perfect games, in four outings?
That's pretty impressive, regardless of who you're playing!
If this pitching staff continues to throw strikes at the rate they're throwing them at this season, with only 15 walks in 15 games, continue to pitch within themselves, and trust the system, they're going to be more than good enough to make this team a special one.
Is it too early to come to any definite conclusions, and will these pitchers suffer some pitfalls along the way? Sure...but so far, through the first quarter of the season, this pitching staff has passed the early season test, with flying colors.
Offensively, it's easy to take this team for granted, as they just score runs at an incredible pace.
With 134 scored in 15 games, the Cajuns are averaging just under 9 runs a game.
That's just not supposed to happen in softball!
Softball is a 4-2 type of game, not 9-0.
Sure, they'll slow down some. It's only to be expected. But once again, the hitters hit the cover off of the ball last week.
Last week, Louisiana scored 58 runs, while banging out 58 hits in the 6 games.
That's an average of just shy of 10 runs and 10 hits per game.
And remember, softball is a 7-inning game, and that the Cajuns won two games without hitting in the home half of the 7th inning, while winning three of the six games in five innings, and another in six, limiting the number of innings they had an opportunity to score in.
So, even more impressively, they scored 58 runs in the 33 innings they hit in.
Again, that's just beating the game.
Senior first baseman Kelsey Vincent had a really nice week, going 8-for-13, along with a double, 2 home runs, and 12 RBI's.
Senior catcher Lexie Elkins is off to another magnificent start, but Vincent is poised to a career season, currently batting a .447 with 5 homers and 15 RBI's.
Speaking of Elkins, she went 7-for-13 with 3 homers, 8 runs scored, and 8 RBI's last week.
Currently hitting a .575 with 11 homers and 25 RBI's, Elkins is only on pace to hit about 45 home runs, to go along with about 100 RBI's.
Sophomore shortstop D.J. Sanders had nice weekend, going 6-for-10 in the Ragin' Cajuns Invitational, along with 3 runs scored and 6 runs driven in.
In case you haven't noticed, Sanders is quietly hitting a .341. And the thing is, she's only going to get better.
Currently, this team is hitting a .378 with 28 home runs, and has scored 134 runs. You don't put up those type of numbers, unless you're good, 1 through 9, in the line-up, which this team is.
Everybody is capable of hurting the opposition. There just aren't any easy outs.
So, this team is now 14-1. But don't take the wins for granted, and don't take this team for granted.
It's a special bunch that's capable of having a special season, provided things fall right.
Enjoy the season!