Sep 25, 2013 6:35 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns softball team will get visits from three 2013 Women's College World Series participants, taking on Texas, Michigan and the defending national champions Oklahoma, in the 2014 season, as announced by head coach Michael Lotief on Wednesday.
"What's exciting to me about this schedule is the quality of competition that is coming to Lamson Park," Lotief said. "We're opening the season with Texas, the next weekend we have Michigan visiting, and then later in the season we get Oklahoma, the defending National Champions coming here.
"There are a lot of premier teams coming to Lamson Park," Lotief added. "Traditionally powerful teams that don't necessarily spend a lot of time away from their home field in non-conference games, so it is a wonderful opportunity for our fans. These teams want to play here because they want to expose their teams to our environment. It is going to be good for our program, team, community and softball."
The schedule features back-to-back home tournaments, with the 28th Annual Louisiana Classic (Feb. 7-9) and the Ragin' Cajuns Invitational (Feb. 14-16) to kick off the season and 10 home games in the month of February, including a pair against Texas (Feb. 7 & 8) and a Super Regional rematch with Michigan (Feb. 14 & 15).
The home portion of the schedule also features a three-game series Oklahoma (Mar. 15-16). It is rounded out with the 2014 Sun Belt Championships at Lamson Park from May 7-10.
It will be the second time hosting in the last four years, winning the tournament as host in 2011.
The Cajuns will host four Wednesday single games against in-state Louisiana Tech (Feb. 12), McNeese State (March 5), and Nicholls State (April 30), and a double-header with Sam Houston State (March 19).
Louisiana will be on the road for three mid-week openings, travelling to Houston (Mar. 26) to take on former Louisiana standout, Kyla Holas' squad in a doubleheader. They will also travel to Northwestern State (April 9) for a rematch from the 2013 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, and Baylor (April 22) for a doubleheader.
The 2014 season kicks off with two games against Texas to start the 2014 Louisiana Classic (Feb. 7-9). Purdue (Feb. 8) and North Carolina (Feb. 9) round out the four-team field for the Classic.
The midweek game against Louisiana Tech divides the Cajuns' two home tournaments.
The Ragin' Cajuns Invitational will run on the second weekend of the season. The Cajuns will take on Valparaiso (Feb. 14), Michigan (Feb. 14-15), Memphis (Feb. 15) and Central Arkansas (Feb. 16). Boston College is also participating in the tournament, but not facing the Cajuns.
Louisiana will take to the road on Feb. 21, when they return to the prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. to defend their 2013 Championship. The field has yet to be announced, but historically features teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament the past season. In 2013, the Cajuns took on Michigan, South Florida, Illinois State, Hofstra and James Madison.
The Cajuns will stay on the road the next weekend, taking part in Mississippi Gulf Coast College Softball Classic in Gulfport, Miss. The tournament schedule has yet to be announced, but some of the teams committed include, Mississippi State, Baylor, South Alabama, Virginia Tech and Memphis.
It will be back to Lamson Park for six more games after the Gulfport College Classic. The Cajuns will open the homestand with the Wednesday night bout with McNeese before their three-game set with Oklahoma (March 15-16), and another midweek matchup, doubleheader against Sam Houston State (March 19).
After all is said and done, the Cajuns will have had 16 games, just under 1/4th of the season, at Lamson Park before their first true road game, and their Sun Belt Conference opener at conference newcomer Georgia State (March 22-23).
"Obviously we love playing at home," Lotief said. "There's no place like home. Our field has really been a home-field advantage for us because of our fans. We are energized and we play our best softball when our family, friends and fans can be here, fighting with us every pitch."
The Ragin' Cajuns will have a conference series every weekend for the rest of the season. With a split of three home series and four road series, the Cajuns will get visits from Texas State (March 29-30), South Alabama (April 12-13), and ULM (May 3-4).
Along with the SBC opener against Georgia State, the Cajuns will make trips to WKU (April 5-6), Troy (April 18-19) and UT-Arlington (April 26-27).
The Cajuns' spring break trip will run through the state of Texas, opening with a Tuesday doubleheader at Baylor (April 22), and then finishing with the conference series against UT-Arlington (April 26-27).
That will be the last road trip on the schedule for Louisiana, with a the midweek doubleheader against Nicholls State, and the ULM series, before the Cajuns host the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Championships.
"Our postseason numbers have been very impressive," Lotief said of hosting the 2013 Sun Belt Championships. "We have set some national attendance records and our fans have really supported every time we have the opportunity to host anything postseason. To be able to host our conference tournament is a big deal and the last couple years it has become a lot more competitive. I know our community and our University will do it up first class."
The 2014 NCAA Regionals are scheduled to start on May 15, with the selection show on Sunday, May 11.
MORE NOTES: The Cajuns are entering their 34th season in program history, dating back to 1981...Louisiana carries an all-time record of 1,406-411 (.774)...The Cajuns have posted 32 consecutive winning seasons (1982-2013)...Lamson Park enters it's 30th season in 2014...the all-time record at Lamson Park is 682-106 (.865)...Texas and Michigan will be making their first ever appearances at Lamson Park...This will be the 28th season in which the Cajuns host the Louisiana Classic...The Cajuns will be appearing in the NFCA Leadoff Classic for the 11th time...the 2014 schedule features 10 teams who participated in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and three teams that advanced to the WCWS...The Cajuns have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past 15 seasons.