UL Softball Unanimous Pick to Win SBC
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, to really no one's surprise, are the unanimous pick to win the Sun Belt Conference in the 2021 college softball season, while seven UL players received preseason honors.
In a press release issued on Monday, the league's ten head coaches voted Louisiana as the team to beat in 2021, giving them all ten first-place votes for the second-straight year.
The Cajuns were picked at the top of the preseason poll, followed by Troy, Texas St., Coastal Carolina, UTA, Appalachian St., Georgia Southern, South Alabama, ULM, and Georgia St.
Preseason Coaches' Poll
Louisiana 100 (10)
Texas St. 72
Coastal Carolina 68
App State 43
Georgia Southern 38
South Alabama 36
Georgia State 16
Meanwhile, pitcher Summer Ellyson, shortstop Alissa Dalton, outfielder Raina O'Neal, catcher Julie Rawls, second baseman Kaitlyn Alderink, third baseman Jade Gortarez, and outfielder Ciara Bryan were all tabbed to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team, with Ellyson being named Preseason Pitcher of the Year and Dalton being selected as Preseason Player of the Year.
The 2019 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year and the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Ellyson finished the shortened 2020 season with an overall record of 11-1, to go along with a 1.83 ERA.
A product of Teurlings Catholic High School, Ellyson, a senior right-hander led the nation in victories in 2019, going 39-6 with a 1.11 ERA., while striking out 354 hitters over 272.1 innings pitched, which was good enough to be named a Third-Team NFCA All-American.
The Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year for the second-straight year, Dalton, a senior hit .400 in 2019, when she was named the league's Player of the Year.
Preseason All-Sun Belt Team
Summer Ellyson, Louisiana (Sr, Pitcher)
Leanna Johnson, Troy (So, Pitcher)
Alissa Dalton, Louisiana (Sr, SS/3B)
Katie Webb, Troy (Sr, INF/1B)
Raina O'Neal, Louisiana (Jr, OF)
Julie Rawls, Louisiana (Sr, C)
Courtney Dean, Coastal Carolina (Sr, OF)
Mekhia Freeman, Ga. Southern (5th, OF)
Korie Kreps, ULM (Jr, OF)
Kaitlyn Alderink, Louisiana (Sr, 2B)
Jade Gortarez, Louisiana (Sr, SS/3B)
Ciara Bryan, Louisiana (Sr, OF)
Kelly Horne, Troy (So, INF/2B)
Makiya Thomas, Coastal Carolina (Sr, OF/INF)
Tara Oltmann, Texas State (Sr, INF/SS)
Jayden Mount, ULM (Sr, IF)
Katie Lively, Troy (So, OF)
Lousiana opens its 2021 regular season schedule this Friday, taking on Missouri St. and Baylor in the first day of play in the 35th Louisiana Classics.
Last season, Louisiana was 18-6, ranked in everyone's top ten, and number one in the RPI poll when the season was shut down in mid-March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
We'll never know how things would have played out, but it's almost certain UL would have hosted a regional for the first time since 2016, and very likely would have hosted a Super Regional for the first time since 2014.
Had this been the case, Louisiana would have headed to the NCAA Softball Tournament for the 22nd-consecutive year, while making an NCAA Regional appearance for the 30th time in the last 31 years.
The only year since 1990 in which UL failed to appear in a regional was 1998.
Louisiana is one of only 9 programs to appear in an NCAA Regional every year since 2000, joining Alabama, Arizona, Florida St., Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Washington.