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Softball: Opening win provides escape, some healing for UL softball after Glasco tragedy + photo gal

Cory Diaz, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Feb. 7, 2019

Click here for the game photo gallery.

After Raina O'Neal smashed her first career home run, a two-run shot that gave Louisiana the eventual game-winning 4-0 lead, in the third inning, head coach Gerry Glasco should've alerted Lexie Comeaux to sit on the changeup.

The UL Ragin' Cajuns welcome Raina O'Neal (2) back to home plate after hitting the Cajuns' first home run as the Ragin' Cajuns play Fordham in the opening game of the 2019 softball season at Lamson Park on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Buy Photo

The UL Ragin' Cajuns welcome  Raina O'Neal (2) back to home plate after hitting the Cajuns' first home run as the Ragin' Cajuns play Fordham in the opening game of the 2019 softball season at Lamson Park on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.  (Photo: Buddy Delahoussaye/Special to the Advertiser)

"I should’ve been on my 'A' game, if I had been on my 'A' game, I would’ve said, 'set change here,'" Glasco said after Thursday's season opener at Lamson Park. "'She’s not coming back with that fastball, be looking for that changeup,' and we got out on it. I thought to myself, 'If Geri Ann were here, she would’ve been all over that approach.' I kept thinking, 'I wish I had Geri Ann here; she’d have that changeup for us.'"

That moment standing in the third-base coaching box was just a small sample size of what the emotions around the softball program have been like since first-year Ragin' Cajuns volunteer assistant coach and Glasco's youngest daughter, Geri Ann Glasco, passed away Jan. 24 in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 10.

MORE: Glasco tragedy draws UL team closer together

It's been two weeks of pain, heartache along with unexpected adjustments for the Glasco and his players.

"Everything we do reminds us of her," O'Neal said. "You just want to go out there, make her proud and remember the things she taught us. That's the big thing. Not to forget or take her for granted."

No. 15 UL (1-0) ultimately defeated Fordham, 4-0, in front of a crowd of 1,678. Junior starting pitcher Summer Ellyson carried a no-hitter into the seventh along with striking out 16 in the complete game victory. But for a moment in the clubhouse, the team wasn't sure how to celebrate its first game after losing Geri Ann.

"I'm really proud of our girls. They've been through a lot the last 12, 14 days. It's been emotionally hard for the girls. We won the game, I go in the locker room and it was dead quiet," Glasco said. "I'm like, 'What's going on? We won.' I realized that's another example where they've been through a lot as young women 

"I told them, 'Hey, guys, we won; we're happy.'"

Ellyson recorded the first seven outs of the game, and 10 of the first 12 through four innings, with strikeouts. Her no-hit bid, which would've been the third of her career, was broken up with one out in the seventh on a single to left by the Rams pitcher Madie Aughinbaugh. The junior ace threw 99 pitches and said after the game she wasn't aware she had a no-hitter going.

UL pitcher Summer Ellyson (9) has 16 strike outs in the Ragin' Cajuns'  opening game of the 2019 softball season against Fordham at Lamson Park on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.

UL pitcher Summer Ellyson (9) has 16 strike outs in the Ragin' Cajuns' opening game of the 2019 softball season against Fordham at Lamson Park on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.  (Photo: Buddy Delahoussaye/Special to the Advertiser)

"I was confident in my stuff," Ellyson said. "I knew what I had and knew I had to do it. Everybody else had to do their jobs."

UL collected eight hits off Aughinbaugh, who took the loss in the circle after giving up three earned runs while fanning five, highlighted by O'Neal's moonshot homer that she launched over the scoreboard beyond the right center wall. Sophomore second baseman Casidy Chaumont led the Cajuns with two hits.

After reaching on her team's first base hit, Alissa Dalton scored the first run in the first on an errant throw down to second from Fordham catcher Kylie Michael that ended up in left center. 

Junior Juile Rawls and sophomore Bailey Curry led off the third with back-to-back singles before sacrifice bunts from Kara Gremillion and junior Sarah Hudek brought home Rawls, igniting the three-run third for the Cajuns.

Not the usual type of pregame feeling, the Cajuns looked forward to the opener against Fordham as an escape, as Ellyson put it after the win. 

"We’ve been working hard, going through a lot of things lately. We thought just come out here and play like kids," Ellyson said. "Come out here, compete like we know how to compete and be selfish, be good teammates. That’s what we did tonight.

"It was very relieving."

The game gave the UL players an out and for a little less than two hours Thursday night, they were able to be softball players again. For them to navigate the first game back, it provided some healing for the girls.

"It was big," O'Neal said. "You play softball all your life and sometimes big things like that take a toll on it. Being able to come together as a team and work towards that one goal, it really helped."

"Probably the hardest part of the game for me was the national anthem because you have a little bit of time to think. That’s part of the process that I know that I have to think and have to deal with it, I can’t hide it. It’s hard," Glasco said. "But once the game starts, not so much. I was good to-go during the game.

"We’re going to have those emotions, that’s part of the game and part of life and we’re going to have to deal with it. We’re going to knuckle up and get through it."

UL plays Incarnate Word at 2 p.m. and Texas-Corpus Christi at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Lamson Park.

Follow Cory Diaz on Twitter @CoryDiaz_TNS and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CoryDiazTNS/



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