Baseball: How Ragin' Cajuns shortstop Bobby Lada handles job Hayden Cantrelle previously owned
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 10, 2021
Bobby Lada knows the history of some of the predecessors at the position he currently plays for the UL baseball team.
In 117 games over three straight seasons from 2018-20, Cantrelle never missed a start at short. Trahan played all but one of UL’s 196 games from 2013-15 and started 194 of them, including all 65 as a junior on a team that played in its second straight NCAA Super Regional.
“Cantrelle, I heard he did a great job when he was here,” said Lada, who played two seasons at Bossier Parish Community College before joining UL.
Selected by Cincinnati in the third round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, he was called up by the Reds for 11 games in 2018.
Taken by Milwaukee in last year’s fifth round, Cantrelle now is assigned to the organization’s Arizona Rookie League Brewers Gold squad.
Rather than feel overwhelmed, Lada focused on the present when he arrived at UL.
“I just wanted to kind of just stay cool about everything and just play baseball,” he said.
Matt Deggs loves Lada
Lada was a high school Gold Glove winner in 2018 at Travis High in Richmond, Texas. He hit a career .321 with 17 doubles, eight homers, 13 steals, 32 RBIs and 44 runs scored in 67 games at Bossier Parish.
“I love Bobby Lada,” Cajuns coach Matt Deggs said before the season started. “He’s got big-league talent.”
Deggs also called Lada “a super athletic kid with big-league actions.”
He wasn’t, however, the only shortstop UL signed in anticipation of Cantrelle’s exit.
So before showing all that off, Lada first had a job to win. Juco transfers Sam Riola and Anthony Catalano were mentioned as early candidates; Cal State Fullerton transfer Brett Borgogno battled in the fall.
Riola started at shortstop to open the season after Lada came down with a stomach bug shortly before the start of the season.
Riola hit .300 in UL's opening series with Tulane, so even when Lada was healthy enough to play Riola remained at short and Lada was at second base.
But after six games, in the middle of a series with Rice, Deggs inserted Lada at short and slid Riola to third.
Lada has started 23 straight at short, providing the same sort of lineup certainty Cantrelle and Trahan did.
“He’s been unreal filling that spot,” UL right fielder Carson Roccaforte said.
“He handles himself really good. He’s really smooth and calm, no matter the situation.”
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More responsibilities at UL
However, Lada has been charged with nine errors this season.
His .910 fielding percentage is trumped by Trahan’s .964 and Cantrelle’s .951, which may be why he also knows work remains in order to truly join such elite company.
“I feel like I still have a lot to improve on defensively,” Lada said, who before moving to Texas was born in Lake Charles.
Lada is hitting .267 with six doubles, two triples, one home run and 14 RBIs as UL (18-11, 5-1 Sun Belt) prepares for a three-game home series against Arkansas State (8-14, 3-3) starting Friday.
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With Trahan having hit .331 at UL and Cantrelle a career .280 despite his .136 average in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, there’s improvement room there, too.
Perhaps even more than increasing the numbers, however, simply continuing to grow comfortable in his new Louisiana home is what Lada wants to do in his first NCAA season.
“It’s more serious now,” he said.