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Softball: Glasco's busy summer creates interesting scenarios for UL softball

Kevin  Foote, The Advertiser, Aug. 14, 2018

Once the college softball season ends in May, things are supposed to slow down — a little bit anyway — for the coaches before the fall semester rolls around.

Don’t tell that to UL head coach Gerry Glasco though.

He hasn’t stopped since his Ragin’ Cajuns lost a 3-1 heartbreaker to LSU in the Baton Rouge Regional finals on May 20 to finish his first season at UL 41-16.

No, he hasn’t worked every single day since then, but Glasco said he can’t think of a time where he’s had back-to-back days off.

More: Cajuns softball hires associate head coach

“I’ll take some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Glasco laughed. “No one’s going to see me during that period, I hope so anyway, because I’ll need some time off.”

This summer has just been too complicated for the Cajuns’ program.

For starters, Glasco’s entire coaching staff left. Some departed for other college jobs to be closer to family and friends and some left for high school positions near home.

“No, I didn’t like losing all of my coaches, but I knew it was coming eventually,” Glasco said. “I knew that was a possibility when I hired them. I was just lucky I had them here for one year.

“I’ve just got to move on. Instead of being frustrated with it, I’ve just go to move on.”

More: UL softball adds two players to roster

As Glasco closes in on filling out his new staff, one announcement’s been made with the addition of Buffalo head coach Mike Roberts as the associate head coach with expertise in pitching.

Roberts competed in international competition as a pitcher himself and later coached at Pac-12 powerhouses Oregon and Washington.

He coached Oregon first-team All-American Megan Kleist in her formative years in Wisconsin.

“He’ll throw harder in BP than anybody we’ll face the whole year,” Glasco said of Roberts. “He’s still healthy enough to throw a lot of BP (batting practice).”

Glasco has ideas of Roberts being able to simulate the talents of opposing pitchers to better prepare UL hitters.

That’s part of Glasco’s strategy of “going live” more this season with multiple talented BP pitchers.

More: UL's season of learning ends with biggest lesson of all

In addition to the interviews required to replace an entire coaching staff, Glasco had to fill in the gaps by traveling to watch UL commitments play summer ball.

“I’m extremely excited for the next three years,” Glasco said.

This summer also produced four Division I transfers and four junior college transfers on their way to Lamson Park.

The Division I group includes: Northwestern State junior outfielder Julie Rawls, Lamar sophomore outfielder Kendall Talley, Toledo sophomore slugger Bailey Curry and Texas A&M senior outfielder Keeli Milligan.

“They’re all going to have to compete,” Glasco said. “At the end of the day, I think we’re going to have to some really good players coming off the bench this year.”

An infusion of talent is good. It’s just going to be up to the coaching staff and the team leaders to maintain good team chemistry in that process.

“I am worried about the chemistry,” Glasco said. “The newcomers are going to have to absolutely beat out the kids who were here last year. No one’s just going to be given a position.

More: Several newcomers on defense catch Cajun coach's eye

“We’re going to have a really good fall of competition. It’s going to be about keeping our chemistry good, accepting competition and respecting our teammates.”

For anyone surprised by the transfers, don’t be. Hitting just 23 homers last season wasn’t by design. It cost the first-year coach many sleepless nights.

Of the newcomers, Curry is the top power hitter, smashing 14 homers along with a .362 average and 46 RBIs at Toledo last season with just 16 strikeouts in 177 at-bats.

She could be the designated player, but first base and catcher are in play as well.

Rawls sports a strong arm with 12 outfield assists, along with hitting .296 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs.

If not an outfielder, Rawls could be an option for the second catching spot.

Talley hit .343 as a freshman at Lamar before the staff was let go.

“She (Talley) bloomed late,” Glasco said. “She got really good last year. I think that’s a really good sign for the next three.

More: St. Thomas More grad Kendall Johnson feels at home with UL Ragin' Cajuns

“She wasn’t highly touted coming out of high school. She always played on an under-the-radar travel ball team.”

Milligan is probably the biggest lock to start — most likely in the lead-off spot — after hitting .339 with 105 stolen bases in her first three seasons at Texas A&M.

“She was really special at A&M,” said Glasco, who was an assistant at Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn before coming to UL. “She was a big reason we went to the World Series in 2017. She was really hot down the stretch. She’s one of those kids who just plays really good against the good competition.

“She’s fast. I think she’ll give us that true lead-off hitter. She’s excited. I’ve never seen her in this good a shape in August.”

As UL’s 2019 roster and depth chart plays out between now and February, the most interesting battle could be in the outfield.

The Cajuns did lose three key outfielders, but Aeriyl Mass returns, and Texas Tech transfer Raina O’Neal sat out last season after hitting 12 homers as a freshman in 2017.

Then potentially Talley, Milligan and Rawls are all capable of starting in the outfield.

More: Ragin' Cajuns Fan Day: Photos, autographs and 40 percent off season tickets

Another intriguing scenario to ponder is Carrie Boswell’s late-season hitting prowess. Will all of these new bats send the sophomore back to the circle full-time as she competes to be the critical No. 2 pitcher behind ace Summer Ellyson? Or did striking out just one time last season raise enough eyebrows to keep a bat in her hands?

It's certainly been a hectic summer for Glasco.

But the second-year head coach who doesn’t really know how to stop certainly has plenty of issues to bounce around in his head if any more sleepless nights roll around.