No. 18 Louisiana (23-7) at No. 9 Florida State (29-6)
Dates: Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Location: Tallahassee, Fla.
Stadium: JoAnne Graf Field (1,000)
Time: 3 p.m. CDT (DH)
Radio: ESPN 1420-AM • Talent: Steve Peloquin, PxP
Live Stats: CajunStats.com
Twitter Updates: @RaginCajunsSB
SETTING THE SCENE
18th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball opens a six-game road trip on Wednesday facing No. 9 Florida State in a 3 p.m. (CDT) doubleheader at JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (23-7) and Seminoles (29-6) are meeting for the first time in over a decade. The last matchup came in February 2006 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Louisiana returned to the Top 20 portion of the national rankings this week after a three-game sweep of South Alabama over Easter Weekend.
It’s the first outing against a ranked foe for the Ragin’ Cajuns since facing then-No. 23 Michigan and then-No. 8 Baylor at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
While the two programs are renewing acquaintances, the head coaches have met recently. Louisiana’s Gerry Glasco (Scrap Yard Dawgs) and Florida State’s Lonni Alameda (USSSA Pride) served as opposing head coaches in the 2017 NPF Championship series.
Fans can listen to the action on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM in the Acadiana region and worldwide on the ESPN 1420 app. Live stats will be available at CajunStats.com
SERIES HISTORY (Louisiana leads, 9-7)
• First matchup in Tallahassee since March 2004 (met in Seminole Challenge).
• Louisiana holds a 3-1 edge in games contested in Tallahassee.
• Vast majority of the meetings occurred from 1989-95 which included five NCAA Regional contests held at Lamson Park.
• Ragin’ Cajuns own a seven-game series win streak. Two programs last met in February 2006 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Infield: The left side is anchored by veteran third baseman Kara Gremillion and sophomore transfer Alissa Dalton (Oklahoma) at shortstop, both preseason All-Sun Belt selections. The duo has combined for 120 assists and only 11 errors in a combined 186 chances. On the right side, Kourtney Gremillion (Kara’s sister) covers first base while freshman Casidy Chaumont has claimed the starter’s role at second base following the season-ending injury to JUCO transfer Brittany Holland.
Outfield: Senior Kelli Martinez, a preseason All-Sun Belt selection, is patrolling left field for the second straight season. Redshirt freshman Aeriyl Mass received the majority of the starts in center field early in the season and now splits time with senior transfer Brittany Rodriguez (Lamar) at the position. Rodriguez slides back to right field when Beth Ashley starts at designated player instead of right field. Fellow senior transfer Kalyn Watts (Southeastern Louisiana) has utilized her power to work her way into the outfield rotation.
Pitchers: Sophomore Summer Ellyson has turned in several solid starts (includes win over No. 2 Florida, no-hitter, 20-strikeout performance) and ranks Top 3 in ERA in the Sun Belt. Freshman Casey Dixon provides an additional option to start a contest and has been teaming with Ellyson to start in Sun Belt series. Carrie Boswell has been the first called up in relief duty in recent weeks.
Catchers: Returning starter and 2017 All-Sun Belt and NFCA All-Central Region performer Lexie Comeaux leads the group. Freshman Caitlin Garcia and sophomore Beth Ashley have also seen time behind the plate. Expect Comeaux, who started all 55 games in 2017, to resume the primary catcher’s role the remainder of the season with Ashley serving as the backup.
A RESILIENT BUNCH: The Ragin’ Cajuns own 11 come-from-behind wins this season. In both of the road Sun Belt series (Coastal Carolina and Troy), the squad rallied twice from a deficit.
FINDING A GROOVE: Adding in the eight extra base hits against South Alabama, the Ragin’ Cajuns have generated 17 extra baggers the last two weekends (had nine at Troy).
STANDING THEIR GROUND: Ragin’ Cajuns pitching closed out a strong month of March last weekend. The staff worked 113 innings in the month and limited foes to 32 runs (23 earned), 63 hits and a .160 average.
PROTECTING THE PLATE: Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have made opposing pitchers and defenses work for their outs. The squad has 20 outings of three strikeouts or less through 30 games played. Louisiana’s hitter struck out just six times in a combined 93 trips to the plate against South Alabama’s Devin Brown and Alexis Reid.
POWER SURGE: The past four weekends has seen the Ragin’ Cajuns show signs of increased power being added to the team’s repertoire. Louisiana has homered in seven of the past 11 games.
EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES: One glance at the Ragin’ Cajuns stats it’s clearly evident that anyone can step up at any time. Nine different players have posted double digit hits and the RBI figures are spread even with nine individuals having totals ranging from seven up to 19.
MAKING ‘EM EARN IT: Louisiana’s pitching staff has limited foes to two runs or less 18 times in 30 outings. Only four times has the opposition exceeded five runs.
BIG MOMENTS FOR BETH: In the South Alabama series, Beth Ashley provided the big hits in each game. She set the tone in Game 1 with a two-out RBI single in the first inning. In Game 2 it was her three-run home run in the sixth inning that pulled the Cajuns into a tie and led to extra innings. And in the finale, she prevented Alexis Reid from a scoreless first when she lifted a two-out RBI triple.
SUMMER STEPS UP: The Ragin’ Cajuns entered the season in search of a lead pitcher after the graduation of Alex Stewart. They’ve found that in Summer Ellyson. She’s delivered a record 20-strikeout performance, defeated No. 2 Florida, pitched a no-hitter and has held foes to three earned runs or less in 14 of 15 starts.
DIXON’S DEVELOPMENT: Key to Louisiana’s success has been freshman pitcher Casey Dixon’s control in the circle since the beginning of March. Dixon finished the month 4-1 with a 2.07 ERA, yielded just 24 hits in 40-2/3 innings and limited foes to a .166 average.
YOUTH IS BEING SERVED: Louisiana has one of the youngest starting lineups in the nation. In the batting order, there are five underclassmen appearing in a starter’s role. In the pitching circle, the Ragin’ Cajuns have utilized three youngsters which includes two freshmen (Casey Dixon, Carrie Boswell).
• Wednesday’s doubleheader marks the first true road outing in non-conference play. The only prior non-conference action away from Lamson Park was at Judi Garman Classic (Fullerton, Calif.).
• Louisiana leads the Sun Belt Conference in the NCAA’s latest release of the 2018 RPI rankings. Coach Gerry Glasco’s squad checked in at No. 21 this week.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns are 5-0 in extra innings which includes a trio of 11-inning triumphs (No. 2 Florida, Memphis, Troy).
• Louisiana’s pitchers limited South Alabama to a .179 average for the series – the third straight weekend holding the opposition to a sub-.200 average (App State hit .081; Troy hit .140).
• Ragin’ Cajuns pitchers have limited the opposition to a .176 batting average. The unit has been stingier in Sun Belt play, with league foes accruing a .148 average.
• Now at 19 RBI, Beth Ashley is one shy of equaling her career-best output of 20 RBI as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
• Summer Ellyson eclipsed the 100-strikeout mark in a season for the first time in her career during last weekend’s South Alabama series. She has 10 appearances of five-plus strikeouts this season, four coming in the past five outings.
• The 5-3 putout is a unique one for Louisiana as it pairs sisters Kara Gremillion (third base) and Kourtney Gremillion (first base). The siblings are one the playing field together for the first time since Spring 2015 at St. Amant High School.
No. 18 Louisiana remains on the road and heads to Atlanta for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at Georgia State set for Saturday-Sunday, April 7-8.
The Ragin’ Cajuns and Panthers are scheduled to begin the series on Saturday at 12 p.m. (CDT) in a doubleheader at Robert E. Heck Softball Complex. The series concludes with a single game on Sunday at 11 a.m. (CDT).
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 (/RaginCajunsSB) and Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB).