UL Softball Weekly Review (March 7)
The 5th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team had another unblemished week last week, sweeping a three-game, non-conference road series, from the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, in their first three games in the month of March.
Louisiana swept a doubleheader from Southern Miss on Saturday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, winning both games in 5-inning mercy-rule fashion, by scores of 17-1 and 13-0, before downing the Golden Eagles, 6-2, in Sunday's series finale.
The three wins extended the Cajuns' current win streak to 10 games, while improving their season record to an impressive 17-1.
It was a good weekend for Louisiana, as they outscored Southern Miss, a team with a winning record, 36-3, in their first true road games of the season.
The Cajuns, after rolling to the twinbill sweep on Saturday, were tested on Sunday, scoring 4 runs in a tie the top half of the 6th inning, to go on to a 4-run win.
While it's fun to win games with the ease that UL did on Saturday, it's good for the fans, and more importantly, good for the team, that they got challenged on Sunday, and get challenged at times during the season.
It just reinforces what, really, we already know, in that the game of softball is extremely difficult to play at a high level, and that winning 17-1 and 13-0 is just not how the game is normally played.
Softball is a 4-2, 3-1 type of game, not 17-1 and 13-0.
This team has been so incredibly good this year, and so amazingly consistent throughout the years, that we've all become probably a little spoiled.
It's not like we haven't seen this before. UL typically gets off to really fast starts. Just four years ago, in 2012, they began the year 29-0.
So, while it's understandable to be a little spoiled, we still have to keep in mind that they will face some adversity his year. Every team does.
It's how you handle that adversity that separates the great teams from the good ones.
The fact that Louisiana is 17-1, while outscoring opponents, 170-29, is simply astounding.
Junior second baseman Hayley Hayden had a fantastic weekend, going 6-for-9, to go along with 2 home runs, 6 runs scored, and 7 RBI's.
A native of West Monroe, Louisiana, Hayden sometimes flies under the radar, due to all the great hitters in the line-up, best she's simply one of the best leadoff hitters in the nation, hitting a .411 with 3 homers and 20 RBI's.
Talk about consistency; Hayden hit 15 home runs with 55 runs batted in in 2014, before smashing 14 homers with 55 RBI's as a sophomore last season.
Senior catcher Lexie Elkins belted 3 home runs in the doubleheader on Saturday, and now leads the country with 14 long balls on the season, to go along with 31 RBI's.
A Victoria, Texas native, Elkins is on pace for 42 homers and 93 RBI's.
So, the question is; why pitch to her?
Well, you saw why in the first game on Saturday, when Southern Miss walked her to load the bases in the first inning, before Aleah Craighton crushed a grand slam home run just one batter later.
When you have two great hitters like Hayden and Shellie Landry, hitting in front of her, and Kelsey Vincent and Craighton hitting behind her, it makes it really difficult for the opposition to just walk her every time she comes to the plate.
Pick your poison people!
And how about D.J. Sanders?!?!?
The sophomore shortstop hit a big 2-run homer in the fourth inning in the win on Sunday, and went 5-for-7 for the weekend, to go along with 3 homers, 8 runs scored, and 7 RBI's.
I figured Sanders would be improved at the plate this year, with this being her second year in the system, and under the tutelage of the best hitting coach in the nation, but she's been even better than expected, hitting a .388 with 7 homers and 22 RBI's.
Sanders' home run and RBI stats rank second on the team, which is saying something, with all the big bats in this line-up.
Junior outfielder Kassidy Zeringue had a nice weekend as well, going 4-for-8 with 3 runs scored.
A native of Brusly, Zeringue is now hitting a .429, which ranks second on the team.
Really, did you see that coming?
The Cajuns currently have seven hitters batting a .321 or better.
Pitching-wise, junior right-hander Alex Stewart got the win in the first game, pushing her season record to a perfect 8-0, while sophomore right-hander Kylee Joe Trahan got the victories in the final two games, including a win in relief on Sunday, to move to 6-1 on the season.
Louisiana's combined ERA. is currently 1.65, while allowing only 19 walks in 106 innings.
This pitching staff continues to gain confidence, and continues to get better. which is bad news for the Sun Belt Conference, and the rest of the softball world.
Now, the Cajuns face a very challenging week ahead, taking on a very underrated Longwood team in a non-conference tilt on Wednesday, before opening conference play against arch-rival South Alabama at Lamson Park over the weekend.
Again, this is a special team, having a special year. Enjoy the ride!