No. 18 Louisiana (23-9, 10-2 Sun Belt) at Georgia State (19-16, 4-7 Sun Belt)
Dates: Friday-Saturday, April 7-8, 2018
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Stadium: Robert E. Heck Softball Complex (500)
Apr. 7 – 12 p.m. CDT (DH)
Apr. 8 – 11 a.m. CDT (single)
Streaming Video (Sunday): PantherVision • Talent: John Morgo, PxP
Radio: ESPN 1420-AM • Talent: Steve Peloquin, PxP
Live Stats: CajunStats.com
Twitter Updates: @RaginCajunsSB
SETTING THE SCENE
18th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball is in Atlanta Saturday-Sunday, April 7-8 for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at Georgia State. The series at Robert E. Heck Softball Complex continues a six-game road trip for the Ragin’ Cajuns which began on Wednesday at Florida State.
Louisiana (23-9, 10-2 Sun Belt) seeks its fifth Sun Belt series win in as many tries. The squad also seeks to strengthen its hold on a Top 2 spot in the standings, which guarantees a double-bye in the conference tournament, as the league schedule moves past the halfway point.
It’s the third road series in Sun Belt play for the Ragin’ Cajuns who picked up series wins in earlier trips to Coastal Carolina and Troy.
Action in Atlanta begins with a 12 p.m. (CDT) doubleheader on Saturday. The series concludes with an 11 a.m. (CDT) single game on Sunday.
Fans can hear the entire series on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM in the Acadiana region and worldwide on the ESPN 1420 app. Live video will be available for Sunday’s contest (fees apply).
SERIES HISTORY (Louisiana leads, 22-2)
• Ragin’ Cajuns won all four previous Sun Belt series, posting a three-game sweep each time.
• Louisiana brings an 18-game series win streak into this weekend’s series.
• First 10 meetings took place in tournaments at neutral sites. Series became a regular occurrence when Georgia State joined the Sun Belt in 2014.
• The initial Sun Belt series, held in Atlanta in 2014, and the subsequent meeting at Lamson Park, in April 2015, marked the first meetings on either school’s campus.
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 129 assists and only 12 errors in a combined 198 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. 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 Garcia serving as the backup.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: The Georgia State series marks the first visit to the State of Georgia for Gerry Glasco as a collegiate head coach. Glasco launched his collegiate coaching career at SEC-member Georgia in 2009.
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 of Sun Belt Conference play (had nine at Troy).
SWITCHING GEARS: Since the onset of Sun Belt play, Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have produced at a higher rate in clutch situations. The unit is hitting .302 with runners in scoring position, .316 in two-out situations and has posted 19 two-out RBI.
STANDING THEIR GROUND: Ragin’ Cajuns pitchers have limited the opposition to a .188 batting average. The unit has been stingier in Sun Belt play, with league foes accruing a .148 average.
STANDING THEIR GROUND (Part 2): 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).
MAKING ‘EM EARN IT: Louisiana’s pitching staff has limited foes to two runs or less 18 times in 32 outings. Only six times has the opposition exceeded five runs.
EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES: One glance at the Ragin’ Cajuns stats and 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.
PROTECTING THE PLATE: Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have made opposing pitchers and defenses work for their outs. The squad has 21 outings of three strikeouts or less through 32 games played. Last weekend, Louisiana’s hitters struck out just six times in a combined 93 trips to the plate against South Alabama’s Devin Brown and Alexis Reid.
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 16 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).
SISTER, SISTER: 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.
• Louisiana has won 41 consecutive Sun Belt Conference series (school and SBC record streak). The streak spans the previous four-plus seasons, dating back to a March 2013 sweep of FIU.
• 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).
• Now at 19 RBI, Beth Ashley is one shy of equaling her career-best output of 20 RBI as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
• Alissa Dalton enters the Georgia State series on a five-game hitting streak which has raised her season average to .383. She’s hitting .533 (8-for-15) during the streak. Dalton leads the Ragin’ Cajuns in extra base hits (10) and multiple-hit games (12).
• 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 11 appearances of five-plus strikeouts this season, five coming in the past six outings.
• Kylee Jo Trahan made a relief appearance in both games at Florida State. It was her first appearance since the Coastal Carolina series (arm soreness).
• Brittany Rodriguez is closing in on 200 career hits. Rodriguez, who picked up 151 hits over two seasons at Lamar, has generated 30 this season increasing her career total to 181.
• Louisiana has out-hit the opposition 23 times over 32 games (20-3 record). The squad has exceeded five hits in 10 of 12 Sun Belt games.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns have excelled at closing out games in which they held the lead through five complete. Louisiana is 15-0 when leading after five.
• The vast majority of close games have gone the Ragin’ Cajuns way this season. The team sports a 10-5 record in games decided by two runs or fewer.
No. 18 Louisiana wraps up the current six-game road trip on Wednesday, April 11 in Hammond, La., facing Southeastern Louisiana in a single game. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. from North Oak Park.
The Ragin’ Cajuns then return to Lamson Park Saturday-Sunday, April 14-15 for a three-game Sun Belt series against Texas State.
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).