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Softball: Even with rain, eventful first UL softball weekend

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Feb. 11, 2018

Day three of the learning process in the Gerry Glasco era of UL softball slowed to a halt Saturday at Lamson Park due to expected rainy weather.

For the record, the No. 22-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns were leading 5-3 with one out in the top of the fifth inning when play was suspended. The game will try to be concluded Sunday, but that totally depends on when the rain stops. They’re going to try and pick up the game at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Broussard Sports Complex.

Either way, we got to see 25 innings of softball this weekend.

More: Ellyson Ks 20 as UL pitching rules sweep

That’s obviously not nearly enough to know what to expect from the Cajuns in Glasco’s first season.

But 25 innings is enough to make a few observations at least.

Some of what I think I learned so far is Glasco is mostly what we thought he was from the few preseason press conferences and interview sessions … with a few intriguing twists.

The most obvious changes from the previous era so far is the offensive approach and lineup changes. So far in four games, Glasco has employed four different lineups.

That’ll likely slow down as the season goes along, but filling out your lineup card ahead of time just won’t work as well as it did in the past.

And yes, the approach at the plate looks to be a different one.

More: Freshmen steal show in Glasco’s debut

Of UL’s 21 run scores thus far, only one came via the home run. Five of the runs scored on sacrifice flies and one on a sacrifice bunt.

Of the Cajuns’ 31 hits so far, 12 are infield hits.

For many, all of those numbers are a very positive sign. Time will tell.

It is great not to have to homer to score a run, but it’s also a burden to have to manufacture too many runs without the benefit of the long ball.

To be fair, though, it’s far too early to relegate this year’s offense as a small-ball team.

Glasco explained clearly after Thursday’s win that he’s never spent so little time working with his hitters in preparation for a season, because of his perceived necessity to strengthen the pitching and defense as much as possible out of the gates.

And to be honest, it looks like that endeavor has largely paid off.

More: SBC coaches: UL’s domination of league will end

Meanwhile, the hitting should improve in the coming weeks. We’ll stay tuned on that.

Like he told us, this team does have speed. There will be many more stolen bases than in the past, and perhaps a lot more outs on the bases. So far, that speed has been much more of a creator than a frustration, though.

Now to the pitching.

No, let’s not jump the gun and start assuming just because UL’s pitchers have done well against the Mardi Gras Classic field that all the preseason pitching questions have been answered.

But there’s no doubt the pitching is farther along than most of us expected it to be.

Summer Ellyson’s 20-strikeout effort was something to see. No, Evansville isn’t Florida, but 20 strikeouts in a seven-inning game is hard to discredit on any level.

The former Teurlings Catholic pitcher was in total control. She’s obviously clicking very well with new pitching coach Ellen Renfroe Reed.

Kylee Jo Trahan has looked vastly improved as well, and freshmen Casey Dixon and Carrie Boswell have displayed potential, too.

More: UL softball begins season of sweeping changes

The biggest surprise with the pitching has been Glasco’s willingness for them to go the distance — twice already — after hinting at more of a 4-2-1 or 4-3 approach, only twice through the order during the preseason.

All encouraging signs in the circle.

Defensively, the only real question so far is at catcher. The carousel there will need to produce big offensively or be upgraded defensively for the long haul. But it’s very early in the process. There’s still time.

Not having a regular backstop is just hard to get used to in these parts. That hasn’t been the position where much experimenting has taken place over the last three decades here.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of Glasco’s first 25 innings at Lamson Park is how aggressive he’s been in handling umpires. His meek mild-mannered approach publicly throughout the preseason obviously hid some of that fire inside.

In a few short days, he went from Larry Dierker to Earl Weaver on us.

“No,” Glasco laughed.

More: Preseason polls promising for Cajuns baseball, softball

“As the season goes along, I probably won’t be as feisty with the umpires. I just wanted our players to understand that I’ve got their backs. I respect the umpires. They’ve got a tough job. I try to always be respectful toward them. I don’t use foul language. I know there’s a big line that you can’t cross.”  

Indeed, the learning process remains ongoing in the infancy of the Glasco era.

And truthfully, it’s already been filled with more surprises than many expected.

* * * * *

Athletic Network footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.

Fans can track the progress of play by visiting Tournament Central at RaginCajuns.com/MardiGrasClassic.
Also, the schedule, parking, tickets, etc., are all included in the link.

Click here for Photo Gallery posted in the Advertiser website.