It’s been a little while since the last time I wrote about Ragin’ Cajuns Softball, in fact, the Cajuns have played nine games since the last blog. Coming off the 12 day break, which was caused partially by a rain-out at McNeese on April 4th, Louisiana continues to roll as they now stand 38-2 overall and lead the Sun Belt with a conference record of 13-2.
Following the Cajuns in the conference standings are South Alabama at 11-5; FIU at 10-6; North Texas at 9-8-1; WKU at 7-7-1; Troy at 7-9; ULM at 5-10; FAU at 3-10; and Middle Tennessee at 2-10. In conference play UL has swept South Alabama, North Texas, and Middle Tennessee, while going 2-1 against both FIU and Troy. The Cajuns still have three game conference series remaining against FAU at home this weekend, WKU on the road, and then they will close out the regular season against ULM here in Lafayette on May 5-6.
Looking at the schedule prior to the South Alabama series, which was followed by a seven day road trip to Miami to face FIU in a mid-week series and then off to Tennessee to take on Middle, it looked like a very challenging stretch, as USA came into Lafayette leading the conference. As has been the case all season, the Cajuns faced the challenge, overcame some obstacles, and after a home sweep over USA, taking two from FIU and then a sweep over MTSU, finished the nine game stretch with an 8-1 record, and now sit atop the conference standings.
Louisiana, this week is ranked #7 in the ESPN poll and #8 in the NFCA poll, as they’ve returned home and are preparing to take on FAU this weekend at Lamson Park in Sun Belt action. Saturday’s doubleheader will begin at 11:00 AM and can be seen on the Sun Belt Network. The first game will be broadcast live and game number two will be broadcast tape delayed. Sunday’s single game scheduled for 1:00 PM will be broadcast locally on My KLAF.
Florida Atlantic has struggled somewhat this season and come to Lafayette with a 13-29 overall record and 3-10 in conference play. The Owls swept the Cajuns last season in Boca Raton, before UL defeated FAU in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game, by the score of 8-0, in run rule fashion. Louisiana is 15-3 all-time against the Owls. FAU is led by Preseason All-SBC selection Taylor Fawbush, who leads the Owls with a .336 batting average; .442 on base percentage; 126.1 innings pitched; 14 complete games; and 75 strikeouts in the circle. Fawbush is 5-13 with a 3.66 ERA. Heather Barnes follows Fawbush with a .319 average and Stephanie Call is hitting .294 with four home runs and 19 RBI.
Katie Smith, (SR, Ruston, LA) leads the Cajuns at the plate for the season with a .422 batting average. Smith also leads the team with 57 hits and has hit safely in 37 of the Cajuns 40 games this season. Smith is currently on an 18 game hitting streak. Natalie Fernandez (SOPH, Denham Springs, LA), follows Smith at .418 and Christi Orgeron, (SR, New Orleans, LA) is also over .400 at .403. also leads the team and the nation with 73 RBI, and leads the Cajuns with 15 home runs and a .697 slugging percentage. In the Cajuns last nine games Smith has hit .444, Fernandez .370; and Orgeron has hit .320 with three home runs and 13 RBI.
On the season Jordan Wallace, (FR, Weatherford, TX), is a perfect 20-0 in the circle, with a 2.19 ERA, and she leads the team in strikeouts with 118 in 124.2 innings pitched. Senior, Ashley Brignac, (River Ridge, LA), is 15-2 for the season, with 114 K’s in 120.2 innings pitched. Brignac was 4-1 over the last nine games with a 1.09 ERA and was named the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week, this past week. Wallace compiled a 4-0 record with an ERA of 1.45. During the nine game stretch the Cajuns defense fielded at an outstanding .979 clip and the pitching staff combined for a 1.26 ERA.
Nationally the Cajuns are first in runs scored at 8.4 per game, Orgeron leads with 73 RBI, and Nerissa Myers, (JR, Petal, MS) leads the country in runs scored with 60. Myers scored 77 runs last season during her sophomore campaign, tying the UL mark for runs scored in a season. UL’s .343 team batting average is 3rd in the nation.
The Cajuns feature three players in the top 30 on the nation’s RBI per game list. Orgeron leads the country with 1.82 RBI per game; while Myers and Matte Haack, (JR, Katy, TX) are tied for 22nd in the country with 1.12 RBI per game.
*Ashley Brignac ranks fourth in school history with 792 career strikeouts. With 21 more K’s Brignac will pass Kim Eisnaugle (1983-86, 812) for third all-time in the Cajun record books. Brignac picked up her 85th career victory on Sunday against Middle Tennessee, placing her alone in third place on the school’s all-time wins list. The senior also ranks second in both wins-loss percentage (.819) and strikeouts per seven innings (8.38).
*Christi Orgeron currently ranks sixth all-time nationally with 267 RBI. In Saturday’s first game against MTSU, Orgeron hit her fourth grand slam of the season, which ties her with former Cajun slugger Gabby Bridges for second most grand slams in a season. As a team the Cajuns have hit nine grand slams in 2012.
*Louisiana has trailed in 13 of their 40 games this season and have come back to win 12 of those games.
*The Cajuns are undefeated at home this year and hold the nation’s longest home winning streak of 36 games, dating back to last season.
*Coach Stef is 14 wins short of 600 with 586 career victories in 12 years. Coach Mike is 15 wins shy of 500 with 485 wins in his 10 year tenure.
*Natalie Fernandez swiped four bags on Sunday against Middle Tennessee, marking just the fifth time a Ragin’ Cajuns player has reached the single game record in school history.