LAFAYETTE — THE BASICS
>> Following a four-day break from play, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball team (17-8, 4-2 Sun Belt) returns to action from Friday-Sunday, March 25-27 hosting UT Arlington (11-11, 3-3 Sun Belt) in a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at Yvette Girouard Field at Lamson Park.
>> Louisiana, the two-time defending regular season champion, has begun its Sun Belt Conference title defense, and the quest for the program's 18th regular season SBC title, capturing series wins over Georgia State and Georgia Southern the last two weekends.
>> The Ragin' Cajuns are returning to Lamson Park following their first road series in Sun Belt play, held March 18-20 in Statesboro, Ga., at Georgia Southern.
>> With no midweek games scheduled this week the UT Arlington series marks the Ragin' Cajuns first outings since the Georgia Southern series.
>> Louisiana carries an active streak of 66 consecutive Sun Belt Conference series won into the UT Arlington series – the nation's longest active streak of consecutive conference series won, which dates back to March 2013.
>> The Ragin' Cajuns offense seeks to continue the momentum from one of their most productive weekends of the season. Last weekend in Statesboro, the squad produced 33 runs, collected 41 base hits, posted a .441 average and slugged .720 (totaled 18 extra base hits).
>> Through two weekends of Sun Belt Conference play, the Ragin' Cajuns are batting .412 and averaging 8.8 runs per game.
>> It's the final Sun Belt Conference series between Louisiana and UT Arlington. The Mavericks depart for the Western Athletic Conference following the 2022 season.
>> Visiting Lamson Park for the first time since the 2019 season, UT Arlington enters the series riding a season-high, five-game winning streak (includes win over Top-10 ranked Oklahoma State).
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE MATCHUP
>> Eighth (8th) Sun Belt series overall between the two programs, and the fourth set held at Lamson Park (2015, 2017, 2019).
>> Louisiana holds a 31-7 lead in the all-time series. In the Sun Belt Conference era (2014-present), the advantage is 18-3 in favor of the Ragin' Cajuns.
>> The Ragin' Cajuns won all nine previous Sun Belt matchups at Lamson Park, netting series sweeps in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
>> Programs first met as Southland Conference foes from 1983-87. Series resumed when UTA joined Sun Belt in 2014 and the teams met in the initial SBC series in Arlington in April 2014 – hadn't met since March 1990 doubleheader at Lamson Park.
THE LAST TIME OUT
>> Louisiana claimed a road Sun Belt Conference series at Georgia Southern, extending the program's nation-leading total of consecutive conference series won to 66 straight.
>> Rain on Friday in the Statesboro area delayed the start of the series until Saturday.
>> The Ragin' Cajuns scored in every inning in recording an 11-3 (6 inn.) win in Game 1 of the series, then Georgia Southern used a six-run second inning to take the lead for good and capture a 12-10 win in Game 2 as the two teams split a doubleheader on Saturday, March 19.
>> in the rubber match on Sunday, March 20, Sophie Piskos [ragincajuns.com] set the tone with a 4-for-4 performance that featured an RBI produced by each hit, Sam Landry [ragincajuns.com] held the Eagles in check by scattering six hits and yielding just a single run over her five innings in the circle and the offense unleased an eight-run explosion on Georgia Southern pitching in the sixth inning to put the game away.
NUMBERS TO KNEAUX
1: In the 8-1/3 innings of relief that she pitched in the two matchups vs. LSU in early March, Meghan Schorman [ragincajuns.com] yielded only one run.
2: In games from March 3 through March 9, Ragin' Cajuns pitchers yielded only two runs over 18 innings (2 runs, 10 hits, 27 strikeouts) in relief effort situations.
.212: The Ragin' Cajuns pitching staff has limited the opposition to a .212 average. Opponents hit sub-.200, combined, over the first five weeks of the season.
2.60: Louisiana entered the week ranked No. 3 nationally averaging 2.60 stolen bases per game (65 swipes in 25 games).
7: Seven different players hit at least one home run in the Georgia State series – the last Sun Belt series held at Lamson Park.
8: In eight relief appearances, Meghan Schorman [ragincajuns.com] has held foes to 15 base hits, a .181 average and struck out 31 batters over 24-2/3 innings.
9: Number of shutouts posted by Louisiana's pitching staff.
9: With two RBI on her pinch hit double in the sixth inning of the Georgia Southern series finale, Samantha Graeter [ragincajuns.com] became the ninth Ragin' Cajun in the 2022 season to reach double digits in RBI (now has 10).
10: Sophie Piskos [ragincajuns.com] leads the Ragin' Cajuns in RBI in Sun Belt play with 10, totaling a team-best five RBI in both series thus far (Georgia State, Georgia Southern).
10: Jourdyn Campbell [ragincajuns.com] leads the Ragin' Cajuns with 10 multiple-hit games, five of those multi-hit efforts occurring in the past seven games
12: Freshman Maddie Hayden [ragincajuns.com] brings a hitting streak to 12 games into the UTA series – the longest hit streak of the season so far by a Ragin' Cajun.
12: The Ragin' Cajuns offense has produced double-digit base hits in 12 games. The unit is averaging 9.5 hits per game.
13: There are 13 players on Louisiana's roster who have already produced double-digit base hits.
15: Sophie Piskos [ragincajuns.com] has totaled 15 RBI in only 55 plate appearances. In the Georgia Southern series finale, Piskos finished 4-for-4 and produced an RBI with each base hit.
16-0: Louisiana's record when scoring first.
18: Number of extra base hits (out of 41 total hits) that Louisiana generated off of Georgia Southern's pitching staff in the series in Statesboro. The squad posted 14 doubles and four home runs.
19: Louisiana posted 19 base hits and hit .514 during two-out situations at Georgia Southern.
30-2/3: Louisiana's pitching staff started the 2022 season with 30-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
33: Louisiana has totaled 33 extra base hits over the first two weekends of Sun Belt Conference play (18 doubles, 2 triples, 13 home runs).
.372: Batting average for the Ragin' Cajuns offense through the season's first 25 games. The figure has been .360 or higher the entire season.
.412: After two weekends of Sun Belt Conference play, the Ragin' Cajuns are batting .412 and averaging 8.8 runs per game.
.453: Louisiana's on base percentage, which ranks No. 2 nationally and trails only Oklahoma (.506). The Ragin' Cajuns and Sooners are the lone two teams entering the weekend with a .450-plus on base percentage.
66: Number of consecutive Sun Belt Conference series Louisiana has won, a streak which began back on March 29, 2013 vs. FIU at Lamson Park. It's the nation's longest active streak of consecutive conference series won.
92/79: The Ragin' Cajuns hitters have drawn more walks (92) than they have struck out (79).
A QUICK LOOK AT THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Infield: Now in her first full season as Louisiana's primary catcher, Sophie Piskos [ragincajuns.com] brings an infectious energy and enthusiasm to the lineup and is continuing to build upon last season's strong finish (hit .429 from April 20 onward). Back from injury that ended her 2021 season just six games in, Taylor Roman [ragincajuns.com] made a strong case for covering the first base bag after turning in three triples, a home run and eight RBI on Opening Weekend. With an 11-game hitting streak and a .500-plus average in February, Stormy Kotzelnick [ragincajuns.com] penciled herself into the lineup beginning at second base. Power 5 transfer Jourdyn Campbell [ragincajuns.com] (Texas A&M) has remained a mainstay in the infield – opening the season at third base – with her team-leading totals in average (.433), home runs (5) and multiple-hit games (10). At shortstop, freshman Alexa Langeliers [ragincajuns.com] was the Opening Day starter and was there the entire weekend due to an impressive.429 showing at the plate which included a pair of home runs vs. UAB. Melissa Mayeux [ragincajuns.com] provides Louisiana with the flexibility to play all infield positions, and can even serve as backup catcher for Piskos.
Outfield: The Ragin' Cajuns "rock" in center field, Raina O'Neal [ragincajuns.com], hit .300-plus and slugged .500-plus all three previous seasons with the program. O'Neal, who missed the final three months of the 2021 season due to injury, has been sidelined by a hand injury in the month of March. Freshman Maddie Hayden [ragincajuns.com], the younger sister of four-time All-Sun Belt and All-Central Region performer Haley Hayden, has used her speed and a hot streak at the plate – hit .619 with three doubles, two triples and five stolen bases from Feb. 13-27 – to land a spot in the lineup. Hayden emerged in left field, but in recent weeks has covered center field with O'Neal out due to injury. Senior Jenna Kean [ragincajuns.com] is the team's primary speed option in the stolen base department and is the veteran of a rotation in right field that includes freshmen Kramer Eschete [ragincajuns.com], Kayla Falterman [ragincajuns.com] and Samantha Graeter [ragincajuns.com]. In recent games the freshman trio has alternated starts in right field with Kean, and also filled in the left field spot after Hayden slid over to center field.
Pitchers: The coaches expect a true "pitching staff" in the circle to be the norm throughout the season. Kandra Lamb [ragincajuns.com], who pitched a three-hit shutout of LSU in her final start of the 2021 season, is ready to take her turn as the leader. Kentucky-transfer Meghan Schorman [ragincajuns.com] and freshman Sam Landry [ragincajuns.com] are expected to round out the rotation of "starters" with Lamb. Schorman was off to a 7-1 start with a 1.30 ERA before the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, while Landry was the No. 4-rated recruit by Extra Inning Softball and shined in last summer's Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) High School Senior All-American Game. The staff approach has played out early on, with the starting nod spread evenly amongst Lamb (9), Landry (9) and Schorman (6). Vanessa Foreman [ragincajuns.com] and Karly Heath [ragincajuns.com] are playing a role in relief assignments, further deepening the staff approach.
- Louisiana was preseason ranked in all four major national polls: No. 19 in Softball America, No. 22 in D1Softball and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll.
- Louisiana, the two-time defending Sun Belt regular-season and tournament champion, was selected as the favorite to win the 2022 Sun Belt Conference softball title in a vote of the league's 10 head coaches.
- Kandra Lamb [ragincajuns.com], Raina O'Neal [ragincajuns.com] and Sophie Piskos [ragincajuns.com] were voted onto the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Softball Preseason All-Conference Team.
- Kandra Lamb [ragincajuns.com] represented Louisiana Softball on the Extra Inning Softball Elite 100 list and Sam Landry [ragincajuns.com] was named on of D1Softball's Top 75 Impact Freshman. The duo was ranked among D1Softball's Top 150 Players.
- With the exception of Sophie Piskos [ragincajuns.com] at catcher, Raina O'Neal [ragincajuns.com] returning in center field and Taylor Roman [ragincajuns.com] at first base, the Ragin' Cajuns are using a new starter at every other position.
- For Gerry Glasco [ragincajuns.com], his fifth season in Louisiana has a different look and feel: the team largely consists of players he recruited and went from being one of the oldest in the nation to one of the youngest. The Ragin' Cajuns went from a roster in 2021 that was predominantly sixth-year and fifth-year players to a group in 2022 that includes eight freshmen and 12 total newcomers.
- Louisiana is in a transition year in the pitching circle following the departure of former All-American and two-time Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Summer Ellyson [ragincajuns.com]. After working alongside Ellyson last season to lead the Ragin' Cajuns to repeat champions in the Sun Belt, Kandra Lamb [ragincajuns.com] takes her turn as the pitching staff's leader.
- The 2022 season has brought the much-anticipated debut for Louisiana's 2021 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 1 by Extra Inning Softball and includes the No. 4-rated recruit in pitcher Sam Landry [ragincajuns.com] and the No. 15-ranked prospect in Louisiana native Maddie Hayden [ragincajuns.com].
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