Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajun softball team will begin their 2016 regular season schedule this weekend, when they take part in the Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
This season, Louisiana returns 8 starting position players, as well as two pitchers, from a team that went 42-12 as season ago, including a regular season Sun Belt Conference championship, and a fourth-consecutive appearance in an NCAA Super Regional, including their fifth in the last six years, and their sixth in the last eight years.
Once again in 2016, Louisiana, ranked #11 in the country, is expected to be the team to beat in the Sun Belt Conference, as they work towards their goal of heading back to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series for the second time in three years.
Over a four-day period, we’ll preview the 2016 edition of the Cajuns.
Yesterday, we profiled the UL catchers.
Today, we look at the infielders, who should rank among the best in the nation.
Kelsey Vincent returns at first base, after hitting a .304 with 18 home runs and 40 runs batted in.
A senior from Tomball, Texas, Vincent, a first team All-Sun Belt Conference and All-Louisiana selection last season, has hit 29 homers, while driving in 76 runs in her three-year career.
Haley Hayden, a junior from West Monroe, La., returns for a second season at second base, after playing centerfield in 2014.
A two-time first team All-Sun Belt Conference and All-Louisiana choice, Hayden hit a .379 with 14 homers and 55 RBI's a season ago.
In two short years, Hayden has belted 29 home runs, while driving home 110 runs.
Sophomore D.J. Sanders is back for another year at shortstop, after hitting a .290 with 4 homers and 27 RBI's as a freshman.
A USA Softball Junior National Team selection in 2015, Sanders committed only 8 errors all of last season, the fewest among Sun Belt Conference shortstops.
Samantha Walsh, last year's starting third baseman returns as well.
A senior from Ingleside, Texas, Walsh was named first-team All-Louisiana and second-team All-Sun Belt Conference last season, after hitting a .296 wit 14 homers and 46 RBI's.
A three-year starter, Walsh has 31 career home runs and 105 career runs batted in to her credit.
Walsh could play third base, and she could also fill the designated player role this season.
Freshman Kara Gremillion could see significant time at third base this season.
The niece of former UL great Stacie Gremillion, Gremillion was a four-time All-State selection out of St. Amant High School.
Veterans Megan Thomas and Corin Voinche return to add quality depth to the infield this season.
Thomas, a senior from New Iberia, is a .314 career hitter, who can provide havoc on the base paths as a pinch-runner, while Voinche, a junior from Teurlings Catholic, returns following a year off due to injury, after hitting a .263 as the starting shortstop on the 2014 team that went to the Women's College World Series.
Juniors Katie Repole, along with freshmen Jaime Landry, Alaina Guarino, Lexie Comeaux, Brittany Nollkamper, and Abby Sterling are also on the roster.
Louisiana will begin their regular season schedule on Friday, taking on Ball St. (3 pm) and UAB (6 pm) in the Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The Cajuns will open their 2016 home schedule the following weekend, on Friday, February 19, when they face Oregon in the first day of play in the Louisiana Classics.