Top UL Softball Moments Of 2018: #7—Curry Transfers To UL
It's time for a look back at another one of the top ten Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball moments from 2018.
The 2018 college softball season was another special one for Louisiana.
The Cajuns were ranked in the top 25 all season, qualified for postseason play for the 19th-consecutive year, and finished the season with a sparkling 41-16 record.
Over the next few days, I'll look at ten of the UL softball moments of the 2018 season.
In this segment, Louisiana adds a much-needed power hitter, with the transfer addition of Bailey Curry.
A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, Curry hit a .362 as a freshman for Toledo last season, to go along with 14 home runs and 46 runs batted in.
Sure, Toledo plays in the Mid-American Conference, and Curry will face stiffer competition next season with the Cajuns, but the numbers she put up with the Rockets would have led Louisiana in all three categories.
The Cajuns hit only 23 homers as a team last season, ranking only 9th among Sun Belt Conference teams.
Now, despite the lack of power, Louisiana still put together a memorable year, winning 41 games, capturing every conference series, staying in the top 25 rankings all season, and finishing just one win shy of an NCAA Super Regional.
Understand; home runs aren't everything. After all, Coastal Carolina led the league in home runs in 2018, with 75; which is close to three times as many as UL, and yet the Chanticleers barely qualified for the conference tournament.
Still, based on the tremendous year they had in 2018, along with the talent they have returning in 2019, one would think that if Louisiana improves their power numbers that they can be pretty special next season.
I believe it is pretty safe to assume they will.
First off, you can expect the Cajuns to hit more homers next season just because they have at least an idea of who will be hitting in the middle of the order, and it will be the second year of the hitting system.
Keep in mind; Louisiana lost two All-Americans, both major power hitters, who both transferred to other schools, just two months before the season began last season, and they had to adjust to another coach, along with another hitting system, with no fall practice.
Heading into the fall, the returning players will have more defined roles, and they will be more comfortable in the system, which I can't overstate.
When a new coaching staff comes in, it takes some time to put in their system. Gerry Glasco, who can teach hitting, didn't have that luxury last season.
It's almost impossible to put in a new hitting system in just two months, with no fall practice.
Look for returning players like Lexie Comeaux, Casidy Chaumont, Kourtney Gremillion, and Alissa Dalton to improve their home run numbers simply because they'll be more comfortable with their mechanics, and because they'll all be a year older.
As for as the newcomers, they will certainly add a major power boost.
Raina O'Neal, who should see regular time in the outfield next season, belted 12 home runs for Texas Tech in 2017.
That number led the Red Raiders, and ranked second in the entire Big XII.
O'Neal, who is a tremendous athlete, sat out last season, but practiced all year with the Cajuns.
There is not reason not to expect 10-15 homers from her next season, assuming she gets enough at-bats.
And that's a big assumption, because this will be a deep, talented team, so O'Neal, like everyone else, will have to earn their playing time.
Brittany Holland, an infielder, is not officially a newcomer, but she played in only three games last season, prior to a knee injury.
Holland, who played one season at Central Arizona College, was named an NJCAA first team All-American following the 2017 season, after hitting a .471, to go along with 15 home runs and 81 runs batted in.
I thought Holland would lead the team in homers last season, so losing her put a big dent in the power numbers.
That's another thing; UL wasn't expected to have this big power team in 2018, and then lost a middle of the order hitter just three games into the season.
Had Holland played last season, she would have hit a few homers, and she would have protected a few more hitters, allowing them to hit more long balls.
Having her back will be big, and I expect 10-15 long balls from her.
In mid-July, Louisiana added Julie Rawls, a Northwestern St. transfer, who belted 10 home runs last season.
Rawls, in UL's system, being protected by good hitters in the line-up, is capable of putting up double-digit home run totals with the Cajuns.
One of the more recent additions, outfielder Sarah Hudek, who transferred to UL from Texas A&M, has All-American-type ability, and double-digit power potential.
But Curry, the 2018 MAC Freshman of the Year, will give the Cajuns their biggest power threat.
Curry is more than just a masher, however. She can flat out hit.
Curry walked 34 times last season, which was more than any UL player from last season, while striking out only 16 times, and putting up an on-base percentage of a .465, which also would have paced the Cajuns.
I think O'Neal, Holland, Hudek Curry could combine for 40 homers, if they played everyday, and could combine for 50. Due to UL's depth however, playing time is still very much up in the air.
Whatever the case, the newcomers will unquestionably help in the power department.
Now, on to the returnees.
Comeaux, who led the team with 6 homers in 2018, should approach double-digits next season, provided she gets regular at-bats, and Chaumont, who has enormous power potential, may do the same.
Expect Dalton and Kourtney Gremillion to pull the ball more next season, resulting in more homers.
And I'm not even factoring in the homers of players like Kara Gremillion and Carrie Boswell.
If you add up the projected numbers, it's possible Louisiana could hit 70 homers next season, which would triple their output from this season.
And while that's possible, that's still a significant jump, so I'm going to play it safe, and say they'll hit 60.
As the Cajuns proved in 2018, you don't need a lot of power to win, and there will be some players who will help the offense immensely, without providing power.
Texas A&M transfer outfielder Keeli Milligan is the odds on favorite to be the leadoff hitter, and will set the tables for the hitters following her, while Lamar transfer Kendall Talley, who hit a .343 last season will compete for playing time, and Tiana Patrick, a junior college transfer, is a super-utility type of player, who could help out at a number of different positions.
It certainly helps to have pop however; and with the pitching, defense, speed, hitting, and experience returning, the added power potential should get UL softball fans excited about next season.
They recorded a lot of wins without power in 2018. Imagine what they could do with increased power in 2019.
The addition of Bailey Curry, who will three years of eligibility remaining, will make the Cajuns that much more dangerous.
Make no mistake; when Curry elected to transfer to Louisiana, the program got a lot better.