No. 7 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball was selected as the unanimous favorite to capture the Sun Belt Conference title and received numerous individual awards, with a total of seven players honored, in the preseason picks announced by the conference office on Monday.
A consensus Top 10 choice in the national polls, Louisiana (18-6, 2-1 Sun Belt in 2020) received all 10 of the possible first place votes, and 100 points overall, in the SBC's preseason coaches' poll in landing the first-place distinction. It’s the second straight season that the Ragin’ Cajuns are the undisputed league favorite.
Summer Ellyson and Alissa Dalton captured the top individual awards, chosen as the preseason candidate for the Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively.
A USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List candidate for the second straight year, Ellyson has crafted 50 victories combined over the past two seasons. She followed up a 39-6 showing in 2019 with an 11-1 mark and a 1.83 ERA during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.
Dalton, the team’s starting shortstop past three seasons (2018-20), exited 2020 as one the team's hottest hitters, hitting .444 with four extra base hits over the final six games. In the last full season of competition (2019) she turned in a career-best .400 average and emerged as one of the nation’s leading hitters in two-out situations.
The two-time, first team All-Sun Belt honorees were joined on the 2021 preseason squad by five of their teammates, giving Louisiana a total of seven of the 17 individuals selected to the Preseason All-Sun Belt team.
Other returnees joining Ellyson and Dalton in receiving accolades were catcher Julie Rawls, infielder Kaitlyn Aldernink and outfielder Raina O'Neal. Impact transfers Jade Gortarez and Ciara Bryan were also selected to the preseason team.
The 2021 Preseason All-Sun Belt team and poll was voted upon by each of the league's 10 head coaches.
The Ragin' Cajuns are coming off a Top 10 finish in the national polls during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. Louisiana scored ranked wins over Louisiana State, Oklahoma State, Texas and Florida (twice) in addition to two victories over Ole Miss, leading the squad to a No. 1 ranking in the lone RPI ranking of the year.
Armed with five seniors utilizing an extra year of eligibility granted by last season's COVID-19 stoppage of play, along with several key Division I transfers, head coach Gerry Glasco and his staff aim to continue building momentum during the fourth season of his tenure.
THE COUNTDOWN IS ON!The fast-approaching 2021 season is scheduled to begin Feb. 12-13 at Lamson Park with contests against No. 18 Baylor and Missouri State in the 35th Annual Louisiana Classics. It'll be the first collegiate competition the team will have seen in 340 days since the 2020 season abruptly came to an end.