Softball: Trio of Cajun softball seniors announce they'll return in 2021
Nick Fontenot, The Advertiser, April 6, 2020
A trio of UL softball seniors announced over the last few days that they will be returning for an extra year of eligibility in 2021.
Alissa Dalton, Summer Ellyson and Julie Rawls all posted to various social media accounts that they will be back at Lamson Park next season to try to make a run at the Women’s College World Series. The NCAA announced last week it would permit Division I spring-sport athletes who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility.
“Just made a call,” said Rawls via Instagram. “I’ll be back. See y’all in the fall.”
UL P Summer Ellyson delivers home during the matchup between UL and Samford at Lamson Park in Lafayette, Louisiana on February 15, 2020. (Photo: Mike Curley/Special to the Advertiser)
Shortstop Alissa Dalton, who was the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year, decided to have some fun with her announcement last Wednesday. Dalton announced via Instagram she would return, but not before pulling an April Fool’s prank on Cajuns fans.
“There comes a time in everyone’s life where it’s time for them to hang up their cleats,” Dalton’s post began. “I want to thank everyone who’s ever spent a second to help me grow…and thank you for forgiving me for this April Fool’s joke about me hanging up my cleats. I’ll see y’all for the 2021 season.”
Gerry Glasco, Cajuns softball coach
UL coach Gerry Glasco said no program in the country stands to benefit more than UL’s softball team.
“Deciding to let the kids come back benefits a team with the best senior class,” Glasco said. “We had an outstanding senior class. It benefits our team as much or more than any team in the country. We stand to benefit by bringing back Summer. It will have a huge impact on our ball club.
"Dalton, who is outstanding at short, and Rawls is an outstanding player no matter where you put her. With those kids coming back, it will have a huge impact on our club. There is no softball team that will benefit more than the Ragin’ Cajuns."
How much scholarship money will be made available to the athletes affected by this season's cancellation will be determined by the each athlete’s school. The amount could range from nothing to as much as the athlete had been receiving.
Louisiana shortstop Alissa Dalton (22) during an NCAA softball game against Florida on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Photo: Gary McCullough, AP)
The added scholarships could cost a school hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it would usually spend on spring-sport athletes, and the extra expenses come at a time when athletic departments could be facing cutbacks. The pandemic also forced the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which cut the association’s distribution to members by $375 million this year.
More: High schools prepare for trickle-down effects of extra NCAA eligibility
“We felt it was important to localize that decision-making to ensure that we were as permissive as possible,” said Grace Calhoun, chairwoman for the NCAA Division I Council. “At the end of the day, each institution is going to have to figure out what it can do.”
The council is made up of college sports administrators representing all 32 D-I conferences, plus two members of the student-athlete advisory committee. Voting was weighted to give the Power Five conferences more say. Calhoun declined to reveal the final vote.
Louisiana catcher Julie Rawls (23) during an NCAA softball game against Florida on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Photo: Gary McCullough, AP)
The Cajuns are still awaiting answers from several seniors, including pitcher Meagan Kleist and infielders Sarah Hudek and Kaitlyn Alderink. There is no timetable for when a player must commit to returning, but Glasco said he would like to know sooner rather than later. The only prerequisite right now is for them to be admitted to UL for the spring semester.
Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.