UL Softball Hosting The Hardest SBC Team To Figure Out
Are the 10th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns hosting the strangest Sun Belt Conference softball team this weekend?
In my opinion; there's no question they are.
UTA will enter the series with an overall record of 18-18, and are currently tied for 5th in the league standings, with a 6-6 mark.
That's okay. Granted, it's not good; but okay.
It's how/why the Mavericks are at .500 that's extremely puzzling.
Understand; they have, in my opinion, the two best wins in the league this season, defeating Arkansas and Oklahoma St., who were both ranked #13 in the nation at the time, in back-to-back weeks, as well as two wins over Baylor.
UTA also has a couple of impressive losses, falling to top-ranked UCLA, 1-0, and Texas A&M, 1-0.
Those games prove that the Mavericks can play with, and beat, most teams in the country.
On the other hand, UTA dropped Sun Belt Conference series to Georgia St., who is only 5-30 on the season, and got swept by Troy last weekend, while also suffering non-conference setbacks to the likes of Sam Houston St., Southern Miss, and Houston Baptist.
What team is going to show up in Lafayette this weekend?
Well, considering the fact that Louisiana is a top ten team good, probably the Mavericks squad that plays well against the good teams.
The inconsistency is still a mystery, however, but let's try to figure it out.
Offensively, UTA is second in the Sun Belt Conference, hitting .296 as a team, but have only 12 homers as a team, which ranks 8th.
Due to their lack of power, the Mavericks are going to be susceptible, even when they're the favorites, because they have to work so hard to score runs.
Then again, UTA is going to be a threat to score runs, in most games, against most teams, because of of the fact that they they have four players hitting over a .300 clip, including Laura Curry (.409) and Whitney Dalton (.405), who are both hitting over .400, which ranks in the top five in the conference.
Pitching-wise, the Mavericks rank 5th in the league, with a 3.41 team ERA.
They don't have a pitcher with an ERA. under 3.13, but yet have held UCLA, Baylor, Texas A&M. Arkansas, and Oklahoma St. to two runs or less.
Their pitchers are pitch-to-contact types, who, when keeping the ball down, are capable of holding down good hitting teams. But because they don't finish off a lot of hitters, there is often contact, and sometimes that contact finds holes.
This is a UTA team that has been inconsistent, and has played the the level of their competition all year.
They've played some really good softball at times this season, and some really bad softball at others.
They are strange; a real enigma.
What we do know is that they're dangerous, as evidenced by their impressive wins and near misses, so they shouldn't be taken lightly.
Quickly; who is the last team to defeat the Cajuns in a regular season Sun Belt Conference game, 17 games ago?
The answer is UTA, who beat UL, 4-3, in Arlington last season, and just about won the series, before the Cajuns took the rubber game, 3-2, in 12 innings.
Based on how well they played in the series against Louisiana last season, as well as their wins over Arkansas, Oklahoma St. and Baylor this season, UTA must be taken seriously.
As a matter of fact, I think the "good" UTA team is the most dangerous one remaining on UL's schedule, and that includes Appalachian St.
I also think if the "bad" UTA shows up, then it can be a pretty ugly weekend.
For the Cajuns to extend their conference series win streak to 51-straight, they have to prepare as though they'll be facing the Dr. Jekyll version of UTA this weekend.
That version of the Mavericks is to be respected.
The Mr. Hyde version; not so much.