Softball: 20th-ranked Ragin' Cajuns Kick Off Weekend at Lamson on Thursday Facing FIU
No. 20 Louisiana (14-6) vs. FIU (14-14)
Weekday Work Perk
• bring business card to Cajundome Box Office or Lamson Park and receive $4 ticket
SETTING THE SCENE
20th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball opens a four-game stretch at Lamson Park on Thursday facing former Sun Belt Conference rival FIU in a single game. First pitch in the non-conference tilt is set for 6 p.m.
The meeting with the Panthers precedes the Sun Belt home opener against Appalachian State set for Saturday and Sunday.
The Ragin' Cajuns (14-6) are taking the field at Lamson Park for the first time since the Louisiana Classics held Feb. 22-25.
FIU (14-14), now members of Conference USA, visits Cajun Country for the first time since the last SBC series between the two programs which took place March 29-30, 2013.
Louisiana is coming off a six-game road trip that brought the team to both of the U.S. coastlines. After beginning the month at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., the Ragin' Cajuns opened Sun Belt play last weekend winning the three-game series at Coastal Carolina.
Fans can listen to the action on SportsRadio ESPN 1420-AM in the Acadiana region and worldwide on the ESPN 1420 app. A live video stream, produced by the Ragin' Cajuns Digital Network, will be available at RaginCajuns.com/Watch.
SERIES HISTORY (Louisiana leads, 45-12)
• Louisiana and FIU were conference foes in the Sun Belt from 2000-13.
• All but two of the 57 all-time meetings occurred in the Sun Belt era.
• Series began with a non-conference doubleheader on March 24, 1999. First of many Sun Belt battles came in semifinals of 2000 league tournament at Lamson Park.
• Ragin' Cajuns hold a 21-6 edge at Lamson Park.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Infield: The left side is anchored by veteran third baseman Kara Gremillion and sophomore transfer Alissa Dalton (Oklahoma) at shortstop, both preseason All-Sun Belt selections. On the right side, Kourtney Gremillion (Kara's sister) covers first base while freshman Casidy Chaumont has claimed the starter's role at second base following the season-ending injury to JUCO transfer Brittany Holland.
Outfield: Senior Kelli Martinez, a preseason All-Sun Belt selection, is patrolling left field for the second straight season. Redshirt freshman Aeriyl Mass has received the majority of the starts in center field and continues to anchor the defense in that area. Senior transfer Brittany Rodriguez (Lamar) returned to the right field corner at the Judi Garman Classic and is expected to remain there.
Pitchers: Senior Kylee Jo Trahan is the veteran leader of a staff that includes eight arms. Sophomore Summer Ellyson has turned in several solid starts and ranks Top 3 in ERA in the Sun Belt. Freshman Casey Dixon provides an additional option to start a contest and she is coming off back-to-back solid weekends on the team's recent road trip. Carrie Boswell has been the first called up in relief duty in recent weeks. Junior Alison Deville gives the Cajuns a left-handed option out of the bullpen.
Catchers: Returning starter and preseason All-Sun Belt choice Lexie Comeaux leads the group. Freshman Caitlin Garcia and sophomore Beth Ashley have also seen time behind the plate. Expect Comeaux, who started all 55 games in 2017, to resume the primary catcher's role the remainder of the season with Ashley serving as the backup.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Ragin' Cajuns have one of the most passionate fan bases in the country and the energy they provide is a huge advantage. Louisiana has drawn above 1,500 for all 10 playing dates thus far.
BATTLE TESTED: The Ragin' Cajuns have faced the nation's seventh-toughest schedule through the season's first five weekends. Louisiana's opponents through the first 20 games have a combined .642 winning percentage. The squad has played six games against nationally ranked foes: RV Oregon State, Florida (3 games), Michigan and Baylor.
NEVER, SAY NEVER: The Ragin' Cajuns own eight come-from-behind wins on the young season. Just last weekend at Coastal Carolina, the squad rallied twice from a deficit.
MAKING 'EM EARN IT: Louisiana's pitching staff has limited foes to fewer than five runs 17 times in 20 outings. The three runs by No. 23 Michigan were the most the opposition scored at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The staff has an active streak of nine straight games yielding less than five runs.
ON THE MOVE: Whether it's a stolen base, picking up extra bases off a relay throw or utilizing the squeeze bunt – the Ragin' Cajuns keep opposing defenses on their heels. Louisiana enters this week's play 47-of-56 in the stolen base department.
DIXON'S DEVELOPMENT: Freshman pitcher Casey Dixon has been in control in the circle the past two weekends. At the Judi Garman, Dixon surrendered only seven hits in 10-1/3 innings highlighted by a 3-1/3 scoreless stint vs. No. 23 Michigan. Last weekend at Coastal Carolina, she gave up just six hits in 11-2/3 innings and was the victor in the series clincher on Sunday tossing a three-hitter.
WHATEVER IT TAKES: Whether it's been a 20-strikeout game, a 185-pitch effort in a win over No. 2 Florida, a no-hitter or a lengthy relief effort (9-2/3 innings vs. Memphis), sophomore pitcher Summer Ellyson personifies the mentality of the Ragin' Cajuns squad – doing whatever it takes to succeed.
YOUTH IS BEING SERVED: Louisiana likely has one of the youngest starting lineups in the nation. In the batting order, there are five underclassmen appearing in a starter's role. In the pitching circle, the Ragin' Cajuns have utilized three youngsters which includes two freshmen (Casey Dixon, Carrie Boswell).
SISTER, SISTER: The 5-3 putout is a unique one for Louisiana as it pairs sisters Kara Gremillion (third base) and Kourtney Gremillion (first base). The siblings are one the playing field together for the first time since Spring 2015 at St. Amant High School.
• Thursday's FIU contest is the first of five remaining non-conference games for the Ragin' Cajuns. Louisiana visits Florida State for an April 4 doubleheader and plays single game at Southeastern Louisiana (April 11) and McNeese (April 18).
• Junior Kara Gremillion leads the Sun Belt Conference with 11 stolen bases – her first season in double digits. Gremillion ranks 45th nationally in stolen bases per game.
• Redshirt freshman Aeriyl Mass led the team with three RBI in the Coastal Carolina series. She brought home the tying run and an insurance run in the 4-2 series-opening win. On Sunday, she started a two-run rally in the second inning with an RBI grounder and later scored the go-ahead run.
• Freshman Casidy Chaumont launched her team-leading fourth home run of the season in the Coastal Carolina series finale. She has hit each of Louisiana's last three home runs, a streak which began with the walk-off homer vs. No. 2 Florida.
• Sophomore pitcher Summer Ellyson has allowed only five runs and 16 hits over the last 34-2/3 innings pitched inside Lamson Park. Foes are hitting just .140 in the stretch.
• Over the last three weeks of play the Ragin' Cajuns defense has committed only six errors over 342 total chances (.982 FLD%).
• Kara Gremillion (39 assists) and Alissa Dalton (34 assists) have combined for 73 fielding assists from the left side of the infield.
• Only three times in regulation play have Ragin' Cajuns hitters struck out more than five times.
• For the season, the Ragin' Cajuns hits have been spread throughout the batting order. Seven of the nine starters have reached double digit hits led by 25 from Alissa Dalton.