SETTING THE SCENE 15th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball starts the 2019 season, the second under the guidance of Gerry Glasco, at home hosting the Ragin' Cajuns Classic Thursday-Monday, Feb. 7-11 at Lamson Park.
Joining Louisiana for the season-opening event California, Fordham, Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Ragin' Cajuns are scheduled to play six games over the five-day event.
Louisiana and Fordham kick off tournament play in a 5 p.m. contest on Thursday, Feb. 7. The Ragin' Cajuns and California conclude the event with a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Monday, Feb. 11.
The Ragin' Cajuns Classics contests mark the first contests on the newly installed artificial turf at Lamson Park.
For Louisiana, the tournament kicks off an 11-game homestand to open the 2019 campaign. Next weekend, the squad hosts the 33rd Annual Louisiana Classics, Feb. 15-17, at Lamson Park.
Outfield: Expected to make a significant impact are Texas A&M transfers Keeli Milligan (left field) and Sarah Hudek (right field). Texas Tech transfer Raina O'Neal, who sat out due to transfer rules in 2018, makes her Louisiana debut in center field. Aeriyl Mass will provide a boost with her speed and should see time in center field. Jolie Readeaux and Julie Rawls could see time in the outfield depending on matchups.
Pitchers: Preseason Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Summer Ellyson is back as Louisiana's lead pitcher. Ellyson was a 20-game winner and ranked Top 40 nationally in all major pitching categories in 2018. Sophomores Casey Dixon and Carrie Boswell, along with freshman Kandra Lamb of Australia and fifth-year senior Alison Deville add depth behind Ellyson.
Catchers: Senior Lexie Comeaux and Northwestern State transfer Julie Rawls, converted to the position from the outfield, will serve as the Ragin' Cajuns' main catchers. Comeaux is also expected to see time at designated player, first base and right field in order to keep her bat in the game, as Rawls will see plenty playing time in order to continue her development.
The 2019 season marks the 39th season in Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball history.
Louisiana embarks on the second season of the Gerry Glasco era. In his first season with the program, Glasco led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 40-win season and an appearance in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional final.
Louisiana returns seven position starters from its 2018 season-ending lineup, highlighted by shortstop Alissa Dalton (leader in average and hits), third baseman Kara Gremillion (on base percentage leader) and catcher Lexie Comeaux (leader in extra base hits and RBI).
The power numbers and offensive production is expected the increase tremendously with the addition of Texas A&M transfers Sarah Hudek and Keeli Milligan, 2018 MAC Freshman of the Year Bailey Curry from Toledo, Northwestern State transfer Julie Rawls (coming off career-best season) and the debut of Raina O'Neal (12 homers as a freshman at Texas Tech in 2017).
Summer Ellyson, the lone returning 20-game winner in the Sun Belt Conference, seeks to pick up where she left off last season. A year ago, she was the Sun Belt's leader in opposing batting average (.176) and yielded three earned runs or less in 30 of 33 starts.
A reigning two-time first team All-Sun Belt performer at third base, Kara Gremillion enters her senior season in 2019. She's rounded up 100-plus fielding assists at third base each of the past two seasons.
Louisiana was preseason ranked in both major national polls, listed at No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and No. 18 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
The Ragin' Cajuns were selected as the preseason favorite to claim the 2019 Sun Belt Conference crown, receiving eight out of a possible 10 first-place votes. Alissa Dalton (SBC Preseason Player of the Year) and Summer Ellyson (SBC Preseason Pitcher of the Year) were the top honorees on the preseason all-conference team.
Expect Louisiana to employ different lineup combinations throughout opening weekend as head coach Gerry Glasco feels the squad in 13-15 hitters deep.
The season-opening contest vs. Fordham marks a rematch of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional elimination game last season, won by Louisiana 15-3 (5 inn.).
Monday's doubleheader vs. California marks the Golden Bears' first-ever visit to Lamson Park. All prior meetings occurred at a neutral site, with four occurring in the NCAA postseason.
UP NEXT No. 15 Louisiana welcomes Austin Peay, Jackson State and Stephen F. Austin for the 33rd Annual Louisiana Classics set for Friday-Sunday, Feb. 15-17 at Lamson Park.
The tournament, which begins with round robin before bracket play starts Saturday afternoon, closes out the Ragin' Cajuns' season-opening, 11-game homestand. SEASON TICKETS AVAILABLE • Season tickets, beginning at $100, are available online at RaginCajuns.com using Account Manager, by calling the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at (337) 265-2170 or by visiting the ticket office in person Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and extended hours during Ragin' Cajuns basketball events. • Fans who purchase season tickets receive priority access for any potential NCAA postseason games held at Lamson Park. • For information on premium seating and parking at Lamson Park, contact the Ragin' Cajuns Athletic Foundation (RCAF) at (337) 851-2903. General admission parking at Cajun Field will be free for all games during the 2019 season. FOLLOW THE RAGIN' CAJUNS Follow the Ragin' Cajuns on Facebook (/RaginCajunsSB), Twitter (@RaginCajunsSB) and Instagram (@Louisiana.SB) to stay up-to-date on all that is happening with Louisiana Softball.