UL Softball: Scouting The Opponents
Who is the best team that the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will face this week?
The 15th-ranked Cajuns are scheduled to play five games, against four different teams, in the 32nd Annual Louisiana Classics at Lamson Park.
The Cajuns open play on Thursday, at 4 o'clock, against Southeastern Louisiana.
I gotta tell you, I think the team UL is facing on Thursday to open the tournament, Southeastern Louisiana, is the best team they'll face.
The Lions are 7-2, including a win over Louisiana Tech, who went to the NCAA Tournament last year, and who beat a top 25 team (McNeese St.) this year.
That was a really good win for SLU.
One Southeastern Louisiana's two losses was to Mississippi St., 3-2 in extra innings.
Offensively, the Lions feature third baseman Mahalia Gibson, who is hitting a .448, to go along with three home runs and 16 runs batted in.
Gibson has the only three homers for SLU, however. So, they don't have a lot of power, but they sure can run, with 32 stolen bases over the first nine games.
Pitching-wise Southeastern Louisiana is solid, if unspectacular.
Seniors Rachel Hayes and Lacey Hill are a couple of good arms, with experience, combining for a 1.65 ERA. early on.
SLU is a team you can't sleep on.
Before the recent success of Southeastern Louisiana, I would have said that North Florida was the best team the Cajuns would face this week.
Normally a pretty decent program, the Ospreys, went 31-27 a year ago, are 6-6 this season.
What's interesting to me is how North Florida has fared against Sun Belt Conference teams.
They beat UTA, 3-0, while falling to South Alabama, 1-0.
Now, Louisiana is certainly the cream of the crop, when in comes to Sun belt Conference softball, but this shows that they can be competitive against good, solid, league clubs.
Offensively, the Ospreys have still not hit a home run, so they can ill-afford to get into a slugfest with anyone.
They do have pretty good pitching, paced by Sydney Matzko, who brings in a 1.79 ERA., and find a way to stay close.
North Florida is not a great team, but one you have to take seriously.
Memphis, who Louisiana will play on Sunday at 11:30 am, will enter the tournament at 4-4, but it's still kind of difficult to judge them.
The Tigers haven't played a great schedule, and have suffered losses to Stephen F. Austin (twice) and Northwestern St., so I'm put them just behind Southeastern Louisiana and North Florida, but it wouldn't surprise me if they played well this week..
Memphis doesn't have much offense, but they can pitch. They feature Molly Smith, who has a 0.57 ERA., Mariah Nichols, who has a 1.11 ERA., and Katie Brignac, the younger sister of former UL great Ashely Brignac.
The fear about Memphis is that their pitching may be good enough to keep the game close until the end, when anything can happen.
UMBC, who UL will play on Saturday evening, is 1-4, and has to be ranked at the bottom of this field.
The Retrievers did capture a nice 6-5 win over East Carolina in their last game, but have allowed 39 runs in five games, against the likes of Towson, St. Joseph's, and East Carolina. OUCH!
Are the Cajuns the best team in the event? Without question. But they could at least be tested by three teams this week.