#12 Louisiana Softball 2016 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #1 Sun Belt
 Louisiana Logo
Louisiana was one of the better hitting teams in the nation in 2015. The Ragin’ Cajuns hit .346 as a team enroute to another trip to the Super Regionals. It was a tough ending to the season for Louisiana as they were swept by Auburn in the Auburn Super Regional. However, there is enough returning offense in the everyday lineup to put the Ragin’ Cajuns right there in the mix to win the Sun Belt and earn another top 16 national seed in the NCAA Tournament
2015: 42-12, 20-3
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Michael Lotief
Field Players:
Catcher Lexie Elkins is back as one to the most dangerous homerun hitters in all of college softball. Elkins hit 32 homeruns, while driving in 83 runs and hit .426. In addition, one of the most underrated elements of her game is her eye at the plate. Elkins walked 38 times in 2015 while striking out only ten times. Outfielder Shellie Landry and infielder Kelsey Vincent return as well in 2016 and they provide even more power at the plate. Those two combined to hit 38 homeruns and drive in 99 runs in 2015. If Louisiana can continue to display excellent discipline at the plate, the Ragin’ Cajuns will continue to be one of the most electric offensive teams in all of college softball.
You don’t easily replace a Jordan Wallace or Christina Hamilton right away in the circle, but all is not lost for Louisiana as junior Alex Stewart is back and is primed to take over as the ace of the staff. The sophomore season for Stewart went pretty well in 2015 as she went 10-2 with a 2.09 earned run average and showed flashes of dominance. She only surrendered 21 walks while striking out 79 batters in 63.1 innings of work. Also, the experience of pitching in the Super Regional down at Auburn was an invaluable experience for Stewart that should carry over nicely into the 2016 season.
Who to Watch:
Infielder Haley Hayden is going to be the glue that holds the rest of the lineup together. Hayden hit .379 and was the model of consistency all season long. She reached base in 50 of 54 games and scored a career high 66 runs and was strong defensively in year one at second base, committing only four errors the entire season.
Final Projection:
The Ragin’ Cajuns will get their shot at payback against Oregon for three games at Lamson Park starting on February 19th. The Ducks swept Louisiana up in Eugene last season. It will be important for the Ragin’ Cajuns to do everything they can to get a series win for RPI purposes. South Alabama visits Lamson Park to start Sun Belt Conference on March 12th. These two teams have had some excellent battles in recent years and surely 2016 will bring more of the same as the winner of this series should have a clear path to the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Also, a matchup with defending champion Florida in Gainesville during the month of April will be another huge opportunity for Louisiana to make a statement nationally. At the end of the day, look for another strong season from the Ragin’ Cajuns with another trip to at least a Super Regional.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Haley Hayden, IF, 182
Hits: Haley Hayden, IF, 69
Home Runs: Lexie Elkins, C, 32
RBIs: Lexis Elkins, C, 83
Runs: Haley Hayden, IF, 66
Stolen Bases: DJ Sanders, IF, 10
Wins: Alex Stewart, P, 10
Innings Pitched: Alex Stewart, P, 63.2
Strikeouts: Alex Stewart, P, 79
Saves: None
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
# 12 Lexie Elkins