The Word: Biggest Takeaways From Cajuns Baseball And Softball
It was not an ideal weekend for Ragin' Cajuns Baseball or Softball.
Baseball had their Friday night game fogged out so they played two games on Saturday and lost both of those in walk-off fashion and then just couldn't come back on Sunday as they were swept by Sam Houston State in Huntsville.
As for softball, it was a hot start on Friday and then to begin the day Saturday as they run-ruled Kent State and North Texas with ease and even beat #21 Baylor on their home turf. However, things turned quickly as we got into the semi-finals and the Cajuns bats sudden fell silent as they were beaten by North Texas 5-1. So, then to the Consolation Game where they would meet Baylor once again hoping to finish the tournament strong but unfortunately they couldn't shake off that loss to North Texas and fell 4-3 in eight innings.
Let's start by digging into baseball. Head coach Tony Robichaux spoke on Monday at his weekly press conference and explained why this team has struggled to a 1-6 start.
"Our biggest issues, of course, that's flared up is from the seventh inning on not being able to get off the field, not being able to stay away from the three-run inning. That's the thing that's done us in during the double-header and then again on Sunday."
Let's take a look at the numbers...
Tony may be onto something with that last statement. In innings one through six the Cajuns have given up just 12 runs through seven games which is great. What is not great is that from the seventh inning on Louisiana has given up an astounding 29 runs! Wow, they say numbers don't lie and if these numbers don't change it's going to be a long season.
However, I don't think this will be a trend. Yes, this is to be expected in some fashion early in the season when you're trying to grow young arms with not a lot of experience in your bullpen. What you're also trying to do is pitch a lot of different guys in different spots in order to see who can handle which role and what some of the new guys are made of.
Coach Robe also said that there will be some, as he put it, "realigning of the bullpen" as we progress forward with this season. He'll try to lean on fewer guys to get the job done and let them fill into their roles.
The bright spot of late for UL has been their offense and defense. Coach Robe said as much, "I thought our hitters did a good job throughout the weekend, I thought our defense did a good job throughout the weekend."
Two guys that they really needed to get going were catcher Handsome Monica and shortstop Hayden Cantrelle. Coach went onto say, "Handsome got going this weekend, Cantrelle got going a little bit this weekend. We really needed those two guys to come on to help us. One through nine not to have holes in the lineup (is very important)." Tony added, "We also started driving the baseball over the fence and into the gaps and off the wall, I thought that would come in time."
The toughest challenge for the team? Tony says it'll be trying to win while they develop their younger/new players.
They play at Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday at 6 pm.
As for the softball team, things turned quickly for Gerry Glasco's squad. As it sits, they're still 14-2 but without the letdown, they could easily be 16-0.
The biggest question after this weekend was, what happened against North Texas in game two after the Cajuns run-ruled them 10-2 in the first game?
Well, what happens a lot of times is when you play a team twice in a row and you beat them as soundly as they did in the first game there could be a little bit of complacency setting in. The feeling of, looking past an opponent or thinking that you can, for lack of a better term, just throw your gloves out on the field and win a game (my college coach accused us of doing that on numerous occasions) and as a coach, you really have to guard against that.
When talking about the 5-1 loss against North Texas Coach Glasco said, "we got behind again and for the first time our offense didn't respond...We came back out and the kids took it hard, I took it hard, it was really disappointing maybe we all took it too hard."
It's funny how in sports, one-minute things can be going great and then all of a sudden you fall in some quicksand where the harder you fight to try and get out the worse it gets. That's what it seemed like for UL against North Texas, they hit some adversity and they weren't used to it so they pressed a little bit trying to fight their way out of the slump.
The adversity carried over to the Baylor game as they got down early once again and were able to fight back in this one but not able to do enough offensively to pull themselves out.
Now, what does Gerry Glasco believe the team needs to in order to fix these offensive problems? "We're going to need to stay super aggressive in our 2-0 and 3-1 counts. We let some good counts get away from us, we allowed some opportunities to draw walks get away from us by being over aggressive outside the strike zone." Coach would go onto say, "I think we just need to stick to the basics and get good pitches as hitters and then on the other side pitching wise we've had good pitching all year but when you get an 0-2 count you can't give them something they can hit right there with first base open and the winning run on second."
Having to go through adversity can certainly be a humbling experience and a motivating one at that. This team is too good and too invested in one another to let a little rough patch trip them up. If I were a betting man, I'd go all in on betting that this team will learn from their failures and be better because of it, coach Glasco and the rest of the staff will make sure of it.
They're going to have to be ready in a hurry as well because they've got games against quality opponents like Oregon State and Oklahoma this coming weekend.