Posted: Sep 19, 2012 10:45 PM by UL Sports Information
An increase is midweek contests, two trips to Florida for prestigious tournaments and games with SEC and Big 12 schools highlight the 2013 schedule for the perennially ranked Ragin' Cajuns softball program. The schedule was announced on Wednesday.
Louisiana has scheduled 15 playing dates and a total of 23 games at Lamson Park.
The Ragin' Cajuns will have nine midweek matchups giving fans more opportunities to see the team play during the week (four Wednesdays at Lamson Park).
UL meets SEC-member Mississippi State in a home-and-home series (Feb. 13 & March 20). The Bulldogs' visit to Lafayette marks the 2013 home opener for the Cajuns.
The marquee matchups on the slate pit Louisiana against two of the nation's most recognized softball programs. The Cajuns travel to Austin, Texas, on March 6 for a twinbill with the Longhorns, then in April has set a doubleheader date in Norman, Okla., with 2012 Women's College World Series finalist Oklahoma.
"The schedule is going to challenge us again," head coach Michael Lotief said. "The idea always is to try and play the best competition, both home and away, so we can give our fans an opportunity to see some good softball and also to challenge us on the road because sometimes that is the challenge you face in postseason.
"Oklahoma and Texas both hosted Super Regionals last season. Going there gives us an opportunity to be able to experience a potential Super Regional site to see how the team handles that type of environment," Lotief mentioned. "Part of the deal in us traveling and competing against Oklahoma, which advanced to the finals of the WCWS, and Texas, who is a perennial NCAA postseason team, is those teams have agreed to come here in the future.
"We've decided to use our resources to not only challenge our team when we go out on the road, but to also enhance the home schedule in the future and build relationships which really is what scheduling is all about."
The Ragin' Cajuns softball team enters the 11th season under the direction of Michael Lotief, and his first as head coach. Prior to this season, he compiled a 500-122 (.794) record over a 10-year span as co-head coach with his wife, Stefni Lotief, who recently stepped aside as co-head coach in order to spend more time with her family.
The first full campaign for Michael Lotief as head coach begins at the University of Houston Invitational Friday-Sunday, Feb. 8-10. Joining UL and UH for the event will be Iowa, Texas State, Lipscomb and Texas-Arlington.
Following the home opener on Feb. 13 against Mississippi State, the Cajuns host the annual Louisiana Classics softball tournament Friday-Sunday, Feb. 15-17 at Lamson Park. Teams presently committed to join UL are Mississippi Valley State and Texas State.
A Wednesday trip to Lake Charles to face Interstate 10-rival McNeese State (Feb. 20) precedes back-to-back weekend trips to Florida. Louisiana is set to participate in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., Feb. 22-24 and the ESPN Disney Tournament March 1-3 in Orlando, Fla.
The doubleheader at Big 12-member Texas (March 6) marks the final games before UL starts Sun Belt play with a three-game series against Western Kentucky Saturday-Sunday, March 9-10 at Lamson Park.
One trip missing from the 2013 slate is the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., a tournament that the Cajuns had participated in each year since 1994. Instead, the Cajuns play their Sun Belt road opener at South Alabama (March 16-17).
"That's been an awesome venue for us and it's exposed us to some of the West coast teams," Lotief commented. "In recent years our conference schedule has already started and in order for us to have been able to go there required us to shuffle conference series. A lot times it put us at a disadvantage because we played a conference series on the weekend then in the middle of the following week and again the next weekend.
"This year we were unable to work it out," Lotief added. "It put us at such a disadvantage in our conference schedule that it wasn't worth the benefit of being on the road. In lieu of that, we picked up the additional tournament (Disney Tournament) in Florida which is before conference play begins. This is short term. We will be back in California."
Louisiana concludes March by completing the home-and-home with Mississippi State (March 20) and hosting FIU in a SBC series Easter Weekend (March 29-30).
The Cajuns' Spring Break trip follows and takes the squad to Oklahoma for the twinbill at OU (April 3) and a single game at Tulsa on April 4. Before returning home for a seven-game homestand, the Cajuns visit Denton, Texas, to meet North Texas for the final time as Sun Belt foes.
A Wednesday doubleheader with Southern Miss (April 10) jumpstarts the season-long, seven-game homestand at Lamson Park. UL hosts Middle Tennessee (April 13-14) and finishes the homestand against Houston on Wednesday, April 17.
The UH doubleheader marks the final non-conference action. Louisiana closes out the regular season with road Sun Belt series at Florida Atlantic (April 20-21) and La.-Monroe (May 4-5) and a home series with Troy (April 27-28).
The 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament will be held May 8-11 in Troy, Ala. The NCAA Regionals are scheduled to begin Friday, May 17 at campus sites.
For all of the latest news and information on Ragin' Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow the athletics department on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/ULRaginCajuns along with @ULRaginCajuns on Twitter.
SHORT HOPS: The Cajuns are entering their 33rd season in program history (first season was 1981)...Louisiana carries an all-time record of 1,359-396 (.774) into the 2013 campaign...The Cajuns have posted 31 consecutive winning seasons (1982-2012)...Lamson Park enters its 29th season of service to Ragin' Cajuns softball (opened in 1985)...The all-time record at Lamson Park stands at 660-104 (.864)...Mississippi State appears at Lamson Park for the first time since competing in the 2005 Ragin' Cajuns Invitational...This year's Louisiana Classics softball tournament marks the 27th edition of the event and is the lone in-season tournament at Lamson Park...UL is appearing in the NFCA Leadoff Classic for the 10th time...This is the second straight season the event is held in Clearwater, Fla...Louisiana was selected to participate in the ESPN Disney Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons (competed in the 2011 event)... Matchups for the four in-season tournaments will be released as the 2013 season draws closer...The UL-Texas doubleheader on March 6 marks the Cajuns' first trip to Austin, Texas, for a regular season contest...The Western Kentucky series starts the 13th season of competition in the Sun Belt Conference...UL's all-time Sun Belt record stands at 207-38 (.845)...The trip to Starkville, Miss., to complete the home-and-home with the Bulldogs marks UL's first trip since May 2, 1999...The Easter weekend series with FIU at Lamson Park marks the final showdown between the two programs as Sun Belt rivals (FIU leaves for Conference USA in 2014)...Louisiana visits Norman, Okla., for a regular season contest for the first time since competing in the 2002 Oklahoma Nike Classic...The doubleheader with OU on April 3 marks the first midweek meetings in Norman with the Sooners since March 31, 1990...For the seventh consecutive season (2007-present), Louisiana and La.-Monroe conclude the regular season....The Sun Belt Tournament returns to Troy for the second time and first since the Trojans hosted the 2008 event...Louisiana carries one of the nation's lengthiest strings of consecutive NCAA postseason appearances into 2013, having qualified for the NCAA Tournament each of the past 14 seasons (1999-2012) - the eighth longest streak in NCAA Tournament history... UL's all-time NCAA Tournament record of 56-44 marks the 10th-highest victory total in NCAA history...The Cajuns have compiled a 194-48 (.802) record over the last four years which ranks fifth in the country only behind Missouri, Arizona State, Alabama and Florida.