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Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns softball team off to LSU for NCAA Tournament Baton Rouge Regional

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 16, 2021

After his Ragin’ Cajuns beat South Alabama in Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference championship game, UL coach Gerry Glasco said he’d wanted to go to LSU for the Baton Rouge Regional.

“But we’re going to go wherever they send us,” he said. “We’re going to show up.”

Glasco got his wish.

The No. 2 seed Cajuns (44-10) will open Friday (5:30 p.m., ESPN3) against No. 3 seed George Washington (37-9), the A-10 champs, at the double-elimination Regional in Baton Rouge.

Host LSU (32-19), the No. 1 Regional seed and the tournament's No. 7 overall seed, will open Friday (3 p.m., ESPNU) against McNeese (34-24)    

It will be the 22nd straight Regional appearance for UL, which last advanced to a Super Regional when it lost its last two of three at Ole Miss in 2016. Here’s what to know about the No. 14 Cajuns going into the NCAA Tournament:

UL bats are hot

Four Cajuns – Alissa Dalton, Sophie Piskos, Bailey Curry and Melissa Mayeux – homered in the Sun Belt title game.

Designated player/pinch-hitter Curry went 4 for 8 with four RBIs in the tournament, and second baseman Jade Gortarez produced four RBIs Saturday. Shortstop Dalton, who recently missed a month following thumb surgery, is 4 for 5 at the plate in her last two games.

'Win three, and I love you': ULsoftball coach Gerry Glasco on the loss of his mother

Hot team:How No. 14 UL advanced to the Sun Belt softball championship game

The No. 14 Ragin' Cajuns celebrate after their Sun Belt Conference Softball Tournament championship game win over South Alabama on Saturday in Troy, Alabama.
The #14 Ragin' Cajuns celebrate after their Sun Belt Championship Game Win Over South Alabama in Troy , Alabama on Saturday. Joey Meredith, Sun Belt Conference. 

Dalton, Curry and freshman catcher Piskos made the all-tournament team.

“It’s kind of awesome,” Dalton said. “No matter who they put in the game, one through nine, we know that they can get the job done.”

Cajuns pitching in place

Two-time Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Summer Ellyson (23-6, 2.22 ERA), a Teurlings Catholic produced named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player, also on the all-tournament team.

Glasco likes how his staff, especially Ellyson and Aussie Kandra Lamb (16-4, 2.12), is shaping up for the weekend ahead.

“There’s probably things I could have done to get a little bit more out of the depth of our bullpen,” he said, “but definitely Ellyson was fresh and rested going into (Saturday), which was a key.

“As we go into Regional it’s do or die, and we have faith in Kendra Lamb, we have faith in the rest of our bullpen if we need to. But the key is to keep Summer where she can be ready and effective in the big moments.”

Season preview:Cajuns softball team nationally ranked and loaded with lineup options

Cajuns get another shot  

The 2020 NCAA Tournament didn’t take place due to COVID-19. But UL was No. 1 in national RPI rankings when the season was cut short by the pandemic.

“It’s been a hard year with so many things – the COVID testing, bringing in and playing with transfers from all over the country and players coming from different parts of the country trying to understand a coach from small-town Southern Illinois,” Glasco said.

The Cajuns are stacked with transfers from other NCAA Division I programs, including six who’ve been to the Women’s College World Series: Gortarez (Arizona State), Kaitlyn Alderink (Texas A&M), Ciara Bryan and Justice Milz (Georgia) and Jenna Kean and Vanessa Foreman (Arizona).

Bryan was named 2021 Sun Belt Player and Newcomer of the Year. Four Cajuns were first team All-Sun Belt picks: Bryan, Ellyson, Lamb and Kendall Talley.

Effective:Georgia softball transfers Ciara Bryan, Justice Milz now in lineup for UL 

Loaded with confidence

The Cajuns haven’t hosted a Regional since 2016, but they’ve appeared in one in every NCAA Tournament held since 1999.

They open this one loaded with confidence.

“This is a talented team,” Glasco said, “and they’re determined, and I like the mindset that they’re in right now.”

“Obviously we … trust our abilities. Every single person does,” Gortarez added. “But I think we are very humble in that sense.”