Softball: Cajuns enter NCAA regionals ready to fight
Nick Fontenot, Special to the Advertiser, May 17, 2019
All the chatter surrounding host sites, RPI, seeds and schedules is behind them.
The Ragin’ Cajuns softball team is finally in Oxford, Mississippi, and the NCAA regionals are upon them. As the preparations wind down for Friday’s 3:30 matchup with Southeast Missouri, UL’s Alissa Dalton said she is beginning to realize the opportunity that the team has.
“It’s a big opportunity,” said Dalton, the Cajuns’ First Team All-Sun Belt shortstop. “Last year we fell short, but this year we came back after all the adversity and all the stuff we’ve been through. We lean on one another and we trust our teammates.”
Cajuns coach Gerry Glasco isn’t concerned with talent or skill — he knows the Cajuns have what it takes to win the Oxford regional. Glasco said the challenge now is a matter of getting mentally and physically ready to perform under high-pressure situations.
It also doesn’t hurt that the Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford presents Glasco with comfortable surroundings.
“As a coach or player, I think there are certain places where you’re comfortable,” Glasco said. “Ole Miss is a place where I am comfortable. I like being on that field and I don’t remember ever losing a game to Ole Miss — whether at home or on the road when I was in the SEC. I like playing Ole Miss and I think it’s a really good opportunity.”
Before the Cajuns get a crack at Ole Miss, they must not overlook Southeast Missouri. The 45-16 Ohio Valley Champion Redhawks feature two stellar pitchers in Rachel Rook and Haley Thogmartin.
“It’s a pretty good bet that we will see (Thogmartin),” Glasco said. “We know the pitchers we will face and we’ll try to find their tendencies and get as much information as we can and be really familiar with. We want to be prepared for Ole Miss — which is what we hope to do Saturday — but we don't want to overlook Se-Mo.”
Unless the Redhawks did zero research, they know exactly what they’ll be seeing in the circle. Summer Ellyson and her 37-4 record will continue to do the heavy lifting. Ellyson said she is ready for the challenge.
“We’re going to go in there and fight our butts off," Ellyson said. "This team has a lot of fight and a lot of guts. It means the world to me to be part of a team that wants it as bad as I do.”
Dalton said she knows the Cajuns have made a statement this year with the 50-win season, undefeated conference record and 27-game win streak. But she said a certain part of her still feels like an unknown.
“We’ve made a big mark this year and did some things that a lot of people maybe weren't expecting from us,” Dalton said. “Part of me feels like we’re still in the shadows. It’s a big deal what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, but we know we’re not done and our possibilities are limitless.
“We feel like the underdog and that’s not a bad place to be. We’ve got nothing to lose and we’re going to make a statement and show that Louisiana is a school you can’t sleep on. You can’t doubt us because no matter what, we’re going to give you a fight.”