No. 8 Louisiana (46-4, 24-0 Sun Belt) at ULM (11-39, 7-16 Sun Belt)
Dates: Thursday-Saturday, May 2-4, 2019
Location: Monroe, La.
Stadium: Geo-Surfaces Field at ULM Softball Complex (500)
Thurs., May 2 – 6 p.m. (CDT)
Fri., May 3 – 6 p.m. (CDT)
Sat., May 4 – 12 p.m. (CDT)
Radio: ESPN 1420-AM · Talent: Steve Peloquin, PxP; Bobby Neveaux, analyst
Live Video: ULMWarhawks.com/Watch
Live Stats: CajunStats.com
Twitter Updates: @RaginCajunsSB
SETTING THE SCENE
Regular season play concludes for No. 8 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball Thursday-Saturday, May 2-4 in Monroe, La. with a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at ULM.
The series brings Louisiana (46-4, 24-0 Sun Belt) into the month of May, signaling the oncoming approach of postseason play which starts next week at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Gerry Glasco’s squad enters May playing its best stretch of softball and carries the nation’s second-longest active winning streak at 23 games (trails only Oklahoma’s current 35-game run).
During the 23-game win streak, which began March 22 at South Alabama, the Ragin’ Cajuns are hitting .348, outscoring foes 158-38, have posted 54 extra base hits, are fielding .976 with only 15 errors over 619 chances and Summer Ellyson is 16-0 with a 0.70 ERA.
Louisiana has been one of the top road teams in the nation this season. The squad owns the second-most true road wins with 18 and brings a 17-game road win streak into the ULM series.
ULM (11-39, 7-16 Sun Belt) has won its past two SBC series, defeating South Alabama and Georgia State, and is led by Sydney McKay who is hitting .399 and ranks second in the SBC with 63 hits.
Louisiana seeks to capture its ninth Sun Belt series win in as many weekends. If the Ragin’ Cajuns succeed, it would mark the sixth consecutive season winning every league set.
The program’s overall streak of consecutive league series won, which dates back to March 2013, stands at 54 straight – the longest active streak in the nation.
SERIES HISTORY (Louisiana leads, 108-27)
- Louisiana has posted three-game sweeps the last six seasons (dates back to 2013) and has an active 21-game series win streak.
- Louisiana won all previous 12 Sun Belt series and holds a 30-5 edge in SBC regular season meetings.
- This is the Ragin’ Cajuns’ most-played series at 135 games.
- Programs first met in 1981, the Ragin’ Cajuns inaugural season, and met every season following through 2005. Series resumed in 2007 when ULM joined the Sun Belt.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Infield: Louisiana is anchored on the left side by two of the best infielders in the country in senior third baseman Kara Gremillion and junior shortstop Alissa Dalton – both career .950-plus fielders. Returning starting second baseman Casidy Chaumont and Keeli Milligan have taken turns starting at the position. At first base, returning starter Kourtney Gremillion and Toledo transfer Bailey Curry share time at the position.
Outfield: Texas A&M transfer Sarah Hudek shifted to left field at the start of Sun Belt play (March 8 at Texas State). Texas Tech transferRaina O’Neal, who sat out due to transfer rules in 2018, is making her Louisiana debut in center field and has started each game at the position. In recent weekends, Lexie Comeaux and Kourtney Gremillion have filled the right field spot when Keeli Milligan started at second base. Morgan Gray and Aeriyl Mass provide a boost with their speed and spend time in right field as a defensive replacement.
Pitchers: Preseason Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Summer Ellyson is back as Louisiana’s lead pitcher. Ellyson, a 20-game winner who ranked Top 40 nationally in all major pitching categories in 2018, is currently the national leader in victories (33) and the Sun Belt’s leader in strikeouts (287). Sophomore Carrie Boswell and fifth-year senior Alison Deville have been the first out of the bullpen when Ellyson rests. SophomoreCasey Dixon and freshman Kandra Lamb of Australia add additional depth.
Catchers: Senior Lexie Comeaux and Northwestern State transfer Julie Rawls, converted to the position from the outfield, serve as the Ragin’ Cajuns’ main catchers. Comeaux fills the designated player role, and occasionally plays in the outfield, in order to keep her bat in the game. Rawls has seen the bulk of the playing time behind the plate in order to continue her development.
NOTABLE STREAKS AND TRENDS
- Louisiana remained among the nation’s Top 10 for the eighth consecutive week after being listed No. 8 by USA Today/NFCA and No. 10 by the ESPN/USA Softball voters in the Week 12 polls.
- Louisiana’s 24 Sun Belt Conference wins are both a program and conference record for league wins in a season. The previous mark was 23 recorded by the 2017 Ragin’ Cajuns.
- Only once before has Louisiana, or any other team in the Sun Belt, finished undefeated in conference play. The 2004 Ragin’ Cajuns, who went 18-0 in SBC action, hold the distinction.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns have a chance to surpass Virginia Tech for the nation’s lead in true road wins. Entering the weekend, the Hokies’ 19 road wins gives them a slight edge.
- With 46 wins and postseason play still to come, Louisiana is on pace for the program’s first 50-win season since 2012 (went 53-6). It would be the 12th 50-win season overall in program history.
- Last Wednesday at Louisiana Tech, Summer Ellyson became the first Ragin’ Cajuns pitcher since Jordan Wallace in 2013 to reach the 30-win mark in a season.
- Now with 33 wins (which leads the nation), Summer Ellyson ranks third on the program’s single-season chart. She is two wins shy of second place (35 by Melissa Coronado in 2001) and is challenging to become the first 40-game winner since Brooke Mitchell in 2004.
- Summer Ellyson leads the Sun Belt Conference and ranks Top 10 nationally in every major pitching category. She has crafted a career-best 287 strikeouts, paced by 11 double-digit performances, which has her on pace for her first career 300-strikeout campaign.
- Summer Ellyson collected her fourth consecutive – and seventh overall this season – Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week award on Tuesday for her efforts in holding Conference-USA leader Louisiana Tech to two hits over six innings and the league’s top home run hitting team, Coastal Carolina, scoreless over 16-1/3 innings last weekend.
- Four times throughout the league schedule, Summer Ellyson has posted the win in all three games of an SBC series. She is 19-0 with 0.62 over 113 innings pitched in SBC play.
- Raina O’Neal led Louisiana with five hits vs. Coastal Carolina (5-for-9). She reached 51 hits with her performance, which increases her career-high total (had 41 at Texas Tech in 2017) and marks the first time she reaches the 50-mark.
- Enterting the month of May, Alissa Dalton is hitting a team-best .426 in conference play with a team-high 29 hits, 23 runs scored and a .530 on base percentage.
- Since March 20, Alissa Dalton has picked up 11 multiple-hit games and is hitting .507 (37-for-73) which has raised her average from .313 to a team-leading .414.
- Julie Rawls’ next home run will mark a new personal best. She is tied with Sarah Hudek for the team lead with 10 home runs which matches her career-best output at Northwestern State in 2018.
- As of May 1, Julie Rawls was the Sun Belt’s overall leader in slugging percentage, on base percentage, and RBI. Her next RBI will give her 50, making her the first Ragin’ Cajun to reach the mark this season.
- Kara Gremillion’s home run at Louisiana Tech marked her 14th extra base hit of the season, establishing a new personal single-season high for the senior third baseman (previous was 13 in 2017).
- Keeli Milligan has moved into a tie for the national lead in stolen bases (with Southeastern La.’s Jaquelyn Ramon) with 57 swipes. The total also breaks the Sun Belt single-season record previously held by WKU’s Olivia Watkins.
- Keeli Milligan has surpassed her previous personal best (54) for stolen bases recorded as a freshman at Texas A&M in 2016. She’s also moving closer to becoming the first-ever Ragin’ Cajun to amass 60 stolen bases in a season.
- Kourtney Gremillion is one of only five players hitting above .400 in Sun Belt Conference play. She has had her biggest impact of the season in conference games, posting over half of her season hits and RBI totals and belting four of her five home runs in league action.
- As of May 1, Kourtney Gremillion was hitting a career-best .358 in only 95 at bats, had a career-best 11 extra base hits and produced a career-best 30 RBI.
- Senior Lexie Comeaux has hit the 40-RBI plateau for the first time since 2017, and second time in her career, and is one pace for a third consecutive 40-hit season.
- Sarah Hudek is the Sun Belt’s leader in total bases (99) on the strength of 22 extra base hits. In conference play, is tied for the league lead in home runs, leads the way in slugging percentage and ranks Top 10 in nearly every other category.
- Louisiana’s offense includes nine players with 30-plus hits, eight with multiple home runs, eight with 20-plus RBI and 10 hitting above .300.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns have started fast in 2019, scoring in the first inning 25 times and being the first to light up the scoreboard in 42 of 50 outings.
No. 8 Louisiana begins postseason play at the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Tournament. This year’s event is set for Wednesday-Sunday, May 8-11 on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, who have secured the No. 1 seed for the event, have a bye from opening day action and will begin play on Thursday, May 9.
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