From UL Athletics:
LAFAYETTE – A three-game home series with 2017 national runner-up Florida, a return to the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., and hosting the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Lamson Park are the highlights of the 2018 season schedule for Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball.
Once again, head coach Michael Lotief and his staff assembled a schedule that will showcase the team to its loyal fan base at Lamson Park. The Ragin’ Cajuns regular season home schedule features two February tournaments plus 20 other contests. There will be softball played at Lamson Park at least two weekends each month of the season.
Louisiana is scheduled to face eight opponents in non-conference play that appeared in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. In addition to the Florida series, the Ragin’ Cajuns welcome Minnesota to Lamson Park during the Louisiana Classics, meet Michigan and Baylor at the Judi Garman Classic and visit Florida State and McNeese during the midweek in April.
“We are excited again to be able to reward our loyal and supportive fan base with a great schedule,” Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball head coach Michael Lotief remarked. “In large measure it is because of the great environment created at Lamson Park, and the appreciation that our fan base has for quality softball, that we are able to attract some of the best programs in the country here.
“As always, we want to schedule the most competitive non-conference teams as possible, mixed in with some of the usual geographic teams,” Lotief added. “Minnesota finished No. 1 in the regular season a year ago, Florida was in the national championship series and going back to California to play in the Judi Garman Classic is a big deal to our team with the intent of exposing them and preparing them for postseason.”
The quest for a 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament begins with three straight weekends at Lamson Park in February. Included in the season-opening stretch is the Mardi Gras Classic (Feb. 9-11), the showdown with Florida (Feb. 17-18) and the 32nd Annual Louisiana Classics (Feb. 23-25).
Louisiana heads west to start the month of March, traveling to Fullerton, Calif., for the prestigious Judi Garman Classic set for March 2-4. In the program’s first appearance in the event since 2011, the Ragin’ Cajuns are paired up against Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, Fresno State and Baylor.
The 27-game Sun Belt Conference portion of the schedule opens the following weekend at Coastal Carolina (March 10-11). The Ragin’ Cajuns return to Lamson Park the following weekend, welcoming Appalachian State for the Sun Belt home opener March 17-18.
After ending March hosting South Alabama over Easter Weekend (March 30-31), Louisiana begins April with a five-game road swing that starts with the marquee midweek matchup at Florida State on April 3, continues in Atlanta with a SBC series at Georgia State (April 7-8) and concludes at Southeastern Louisiana on April 11.
The Ragin’ Cajuns then finish the regular season playing three of the last four weekend series at Lamson Park. It starts with a key mid-April SBC series with back-to-back SBC Tournament runner-up Texas State (April 14-15) and also includes visits from Georgia Southern (April 21-22) and ULM (May 5-6).
The lone road outings over the season-ending stretch are a midweek visit to McNeese (April 18) and a Sun Belt series at UTA (April 28-29).
Louisiana will begin postseason play at home as the Sun Belt Conference Tournament returns to Lamson Park and will be held May 9-12. The Ragin’ Cajuns are hosting the event for the fifth time, with previous occurrences taking place in 2000, 2004, 2011 and 2014.
“Last year we set records in season ticket sales and we’re asking again for your support so that our players can continue to chase their dreams,” Lotief said. “There is no place like home and we believe our home is the best in the country.”
The Ragin' Cajuns finished the 2017 campaign with a 47-8 overall record and a 23-1 mark in Sun Belt Conference play which set a record for conference victories. Louisiana claimed its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference championship, the 15th overall in the 17 years of league competition since 2001, and repeated as the league's postseason tournament champion.
The 2017 squad secured the program's 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, extended the string of 40-win seasons to 19 straight and had the program competing for an NCAA Regional championship for the 10th consecutive year.
For more information on Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball, as well as all of Ragin' Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball),Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSoftball).