The Word: Biggest Takeaways From UL Softball’s Opening Weekend of 2020
Opening weekend was a winning one for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball program but it didn't go exactly how they would have liked it to go.
They went 3-1 in the 34th annual Louisiana Classics play at Lamson Park by defeating UTSA twice via the mercy rule and edging Ball State 3-2 in their opening game of the season. However, the gosh darn Mean Green got them again, for the second straight year early in the season the Cajuns were upset by North Texas.
At Softball Media Day Gerry Glasco talked about how he felt that early-season loss may have cost them a shot to host a Regional last season. We'll see where it leaves them as this season unfolds, they do face much better non-conference opponents this season so that should help as long as they play well.
As for this opening weekend, there were a few things that stood out to me.
1. THE PITCHING IS GOING TO BE VERY GOOD
The numbers backed that up this weekend as Summer Ellyson threw 10.2 innings, went 2-0 allowing just seven hits, two walks while striking out 18 batters and pitching to a 1.31 ERA.
Megan Kleist was equally impressive throwing 13 innings, going 1-1 allowing just nine hits, four walks while striking out 20 opposing hitters and came away with a sparkling 0.54 ERA. The big blow she allowed this weekend was the game-winning home run to North Texas on Saturday in the top of the 7th inning with the game tied at one, that was the only earned run she allowed all weekend.
Kleist was super impressive mixing in her devastating changeup and keeping hitters off-balance in both games she pitched. She was also able to work out of some trouble late against Ball State to pick up a save and secure the victory for Ellyson.
2. THE DEFENSE LOOKED A LITTLE SHAKY
The Cajuns committed four errors in the field this weekend and at least one in three out of the four games they played. Even with the four errors, there were also countless other times where a ball wasn't fielded cleanly but the player was able to recover in time to throw the runner out. There were also a couple of misplays in the outfield that turned what should have probably been outs into hits.
All that aside, I'm not going to sit here and panic about the shaky start defensively for this team, they'll be fine. It's the first time this team has gotten on the field in real game action and there were some players making their Lousiana debut or returning from injury. Chalk it up to early-season jitters but it is something that stood out to me and I'm sure coach Glasco and his staff will fix it right up with some tough practices.
3. A NEWCOMERS AND A RETURNER WE HAVEN'T SEEN MUCH FROM ARE GOING TO BE FUN TO WATCH THIS SEASON
I've gotta say I was super impressed with the way Kaitlyn Alderink swings the bat and just plays the game in general. Why is she going to be so fun to watch you may ask? She competes on the field, she's a really well-rounded hitter able to make in-game adjustments and hits the ball where it's pitched going the other way with ease. I've always said that the mark of a truly good hitter is someone who can go up the middle and hit the ball the other way with consistency and I saw that from Alderink this weekend. She is going to rack up the hits and steal a lot of bases this season.
I know a lot of people are talking about it but it's worth mentioning again, how great was it to see Brittany Holland back on the diamond? If you've ever torn your ACL, I haven't, or have dealt with injuries as an athlete, I have, you can't help but appreciate the hard work it must have taken Holland to come back from torn ACL's in each knee the last two seasons. She played some third, got a hit in her first at-bat and topped things off with an opposite-field grand slam in their second win over UTSA. Coach Glasco talked on Monday about working her more into the lineup and maybe giving her an opportunity to play some first base. As she begins to trust her body movements more on the field I think we're really going to see her blossom into one of the season's biggest stars on this team.
This week the team hosts Lamar on Tuesday with first pitch at 6 p.m. Then, welcomes in North Dakota on Friday (6 p.m.), Samford (1:30 p.m.) and LSU (4 p.m.) on Saturday before wrapping the week at LSU on Sunday (3 p.m.).