UL Softball Weekly Review – May 1
The 16th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun softball team continued their recent dominance over the weekend, sweeping a three-game set from the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in their final regular season home games.
Louisiana won the first game, 9-0, before capturing the second game, 13-4, and then completed the sweep with a 8-0 victory in the third game, all in 5-inning mercy-rule fashion.
The victories clinched UL their 4th-consecutive Sun Belt Conference regular season league championship, including their 15th in the 17-year history of softball in the league.
The win extended the Cajuns’ current win streak to seven games, and their home win streak to 13 games, while giving them 22 wins in their last 23 games, and 29 in their last 31.
Louisiana has also now won 26 of their last 27 conference games, dating back to last season.
The series triumph also pushed Louisiana’s conference series win streak to 36, a school and Sun Belt Conference record.
The Cajuns haven’t lost a league series since 2013, when they dropped 2-of-3 to South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama.
Louisiana is now 39-6, overall, and 20-1 in league play.
The first thing that comes to mind from the weekend is that Louisiana hit the ball. They outscored Coastal Carolina, 30-4, while hitting in only 13 innings due to the mercy-rule.
Going even farther, if you include UL’s 11-9 over Texas A&M back on April 19, and their three-game sweep over Georgia St. the previous weekend, they have now scored 81 runs in their last 7 games.
Understand, this was against the 4th-ranked team in the country, on the road, a team that is currently in third place in the conference standings, and a team that is currently 7 games over .500.
To say that’s impressive would be an understatement.
The top part of the order produced for Louisiana over the weekend, with Kara Gremillion, DJ Sanders, and Haley Hayden going a combined 6-for-18 with 10 walks, and 13 runs scored.
Gremillion has an on-base percentage of .481, while Sanders, who has 27 home runs on the season, the third most in a single season in UL softball history, to go along with 70 runs batted in, just continues to have a terrific season.
As for Hayden, she finished the month of April batting over a .500 with 7 RBI's, and became the all-time school leader in runs scored over the weekend, with 244, surpassing Nerissa Myers.
Teams will continue to pitch around Sanders, but Hayden is providing superb protection.
You can’t expect Gremillion, Sanders, and Hayden to be as productive as they have been every week, but they’ve been extraordinarily good over the last month now, and a big reason the Cajuns have been the best offensive team in the nation.
Gremillion, Sanders, and Hayden, set the tables for the #4, #5,and #6 hitters; Aleah Craighton, Lexie Comeaux, and Daniella Chavez, who drove home a combined 18 runs.
Craighton drove in 4 runs over the weekend, while Comeaux had 9, and Chavez contributed 5.
Again, you want to walk Sanders? Fine. Just understand Craighton, a second team NFCA All-American a season ago, who is swinging it great right now, is not far behind, followed by Comeaux and Chavez, who have combined for 89 RBI's on the year.
This line-up, when it’s clicking, can be scary, and those six are a large part of the reason why.
And let’s not look past Corin Voinche, Kassidy Zeringue, and Kelli Martinez, the 7-9 hitters, who contributed 11 hits, 3 runs scored, and 8 RBI’s.
Again, the Cajuns averaged about 10 runs-per-game over the weekend, and that's in mercy-rule games, meaning that they only hit in 13 innings over the weekend. The game of softball just wasn’t designed for that much offense, so Louisiana is beating the game.
Pitching-wise, Alex Stewart continues to be impressive. She recorded three wins over the weekend, moving her record to 13-0 in league play this season, and an incredible 34-1, lifetime, in Sun Belt Conference action over her great career.
Yes, Alyssa Denham had a subpar outing over the weekend, but she only threw one inning, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that Stewart was so good, and her pitch-count was so low, so there wasn't a great need for anyone else.
Stewart and Denham have just been rock solid all year, and while you would have liked to have seen both of them be consistent over the weekend, those two have been one of the best pitching tandems in the country this season, going a combined 44-5 with a 2.04 ERA.
Defensively, Louisiana allowed two unearned runs in the second game on Saturday, but played error-free softball in the first and third games of the series, while making a couple of outstanding plays over the weekend.
The defense has been the most overlooked aspect of the team this season. They can pick it!
All in all, it was another terrific weekend. Anytime you sweep a conference series, it’s an accomplishment, especially when you have the target on your backs.
Louisiana has distanced themselves from the rest of the league, and are gunning for a possible host spot in an NCAA Regional.
This team, right now, is playing as well as anybody in the country, especially offensively. Now, let’s hope it continues.
Next weekend, the Cajuns travel to Monroe, to take on the ULM Warhawks in three-game league series, to conclude their regular season schedule.
The goal will be the same; play better than the opponent, but also to try to get better, something Louisiana has done a lot over the last seven weeks.