Softball: Cajuns Announce Four New Transfers and Begin Fall Practice
LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball announced Wednesday the addition of four transfers who joined the program at the start of the Fall 2017 semester.
LAFAYETTE – The 2018 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball team took in its first team practice of the fall season on Thursday at Lamson Park.
The Ragin' Cajuns, in search of the program's 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, return five starters from last season's lineup, led by All-Americans DJ Sanders and Aleah Craighton, and 2017 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Alyssa Denham is back in the pitching circle.
"The fall is one of my favorite parts of the season because you get to evaluate each players' talents and skills and watch a new group interact and learn to care for each other," Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball head coach Michael Lotief said. "We are excited to be back on the field together, playing the game we all love."
In lieu of fall games, the Ragin' Cajuns will play intrasquad scrimmages at Lamson Park throughout the fall practice period. Stay tuned to the team's social media channels for further updates.
The Ragin' Cajuns, 47-8 during the 2017 season with a Sun Belt-record league mark of 23-1, are preparing for the 16th season under Lotief's guidance.
A total of 19 players return from the 2017 squad and they are joined by 12 newcomers (eight freshmen, four transfers).
Sanders (29 home runs) and Craighton (18 home runs) are seniors and return as the top run producers, Kara Gremillion enters her junior season after locking down the hot corner at third base the past two seasons, junior Lexie Comeaux is coming off an all-region worthy campaign behind the plate and senior Kelli Martinez joins Craighton in providing veteran leadership in the outfield.
One of Louisiana's goals leading up to February will be to replace the leadership and consistent production of career .360-plus hitter Haley Hayden.
Denham, a Top 25 finalist for NFCA Freshman of the Year with two wins over Top 5 teams (Alabama, Texas A&M) last season, recorded 15 victories and a 2.27 ERA in her debut campaign. Other veteran arms joining her as Louisiana seeks to replace the efforts of former SBC Pitcher of the Year and All-American Alex Stewart include: Kylee Jo Trahan, Alison Deville and Summer Ellyson.
Last season, Louisiana claimed its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference championship, the 15th overall in the 17 years of league competition since 2001, and repeated as the league's postseason tournament champion. The 2017 squad also secured the program's 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, extended the string of 40-win seasons to 19 straight and had the program competing for an NCAA Regional championship for the 10th consecutive year.
Season ticket renewals for the 2018 season are currently underway, lasting until Oct. 27. Ragin' Cajuns Softball season ticket holders should find an invoice on their Account Manager at RaginCajuns.com and should have received printed copies via mail.
The 2018 Ragin' Cajuns Softball home schedule at Lamson Park features 32 games over 22 dates, plus the Sun Belt Tournament. The lineup is highlighted by two February tournaments, a three-game series with 2017 national runner-up Florida (Feb. 17-18) and visits from NCAA Tournament participants Illinois-Chicago (Mardi Gras Classic), Minnesota (Louisiana Classics) and Texas State (April 14-15).
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 (/RaginCajunSoftball),Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSoftball).