#30 Louisiana Baseball 2014 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #1 Sun Belt
#30 Louisiana Baseball 2014 Preview
Louisiana Team Page


Louisiana-Lafayette had a great season in 2013, going 43-20 and making the NCAA Tournament.  The Ragin’ Cajuns were placed in the Baton Rouge Regional where they eliminated Jackson State and Sam Houston State before falling to LSU.  This year, the Ragin’ Cajuns return the majority of last year’s top performers and add some talented newcomers, and will enter the 2014 season with high expectations.

2013: 43-20, 19-11
2013 Postseason: NCAA Tournament
Coach: Tony Robichaux

Field Players:
Louisiana will lose outfielder Dex Kjerstad, who led the Sun Belt in batting average, but all of the other starters return.  Outfielder Caleb Adams and third baseman Tyler Giroud will be the leaders.   Adams hit .339 and led the team in home runs, with 16, and RBI’s, with 51.  Giroud hit .360 with seven home runs and 41 RBI’s and led the team in on-base percentage at .461.  Both players could expect to see some of their playing time at DH.  All of the other infield starters return from last season, led buy shortstop Blake Trahan.  Trahan hit .319 with four home runs and 38 RBI’s, led the team in walks, with 30, and was a perfect 13 for 13 on stolen base attempts.  Joining Trahan will be second baseman Jace Conrad and first baseman Chase Compton. Conrad hit .286 with four home runs and 36 RBI’s and led the team in stolen bases with 19.  Compton added five long balls and 32 RBI’s, while hitting .265.  Ryan Leonards could also see some time in the infield after hitting .328 last season, but he will most likely find a majority of his playing time in the outfield.  He will join Adams, Seth Harrison, and Dylan Butler there.  Harrison hit .338 with nine home runs and 45 RBI’s, while Butler hit .295 with eight homers and 42 RBI’s.  Ryan Wilson, who doubles as a pitcher, could also see time after starting 24 games a year ago.  Completing the lineup will be Michael Strentz at catcher.  He hit .311 with seven home runs and 45 RBI’s in 2013.  Nick Thurman and juco transfer Evan Powell could see playing time at the position as well.  Powell, who started his career at LSU, could also see time at an infield position.

Austin Robichaux, son of head coach Tony, will be back on the mound at the top of the rotation.  He went 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 16 starts last year, throwing three complete games.  Cody Boutte will join him in the rotation after going 8-4 with a 5.30 ERA in 17 starts.  The Ragin’ Cajuns will look for someone else to step up and join the two in the rotation. It should be redshirt senior Chris Griffitt, who missed last year with an injury, who went 6-3 with a 3.52 era in 2012.  In the bullpen, closer Matt Hicks is back after recording 11 saves.  He was 4-3 with a 4.85 ERA in 30 appearances. Ben Carter and Matt Plitt will join him.  Carter was 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 16 appearances, while Plitt was 4-1 with a 4.19 ERA in 15 appearances. Austin Wilson should also see a heavy workload after starting 12 games last year.  He went 6-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 22 games total.  A pair of juco transfers, Greg Milhorn and Carson Baranik, could also be in the mix.  Adding depth will be Seth Harrison, who recorded three saves last year.  

Who to Watch:
Chris Griffitt could make the difference for this Ragin’ Cajun team.  He was a starter in the 2012 season, but missed the 2013 season with an injury.  In 14 appearances, including 12 stats, Griffitt was 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA.  He also led the team in strikeouts with 63 in just 69 innings.  Griffitt provides the Ragin’ Cajuns with a veteran arm that will strengthen a starting rotation that lost a bit from last season.

Final Projection:
With just about everyone back this year, expectations are high for the Cajuns.  After finishing tied for third in the conference last season, Louisiana is in a position to jump to the top of the Sun Belt this season.  They have some tough games early with a trip to LSU and a home series with Alabama, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have the talent to compete with just about anybody.  As long as Louisiana stays healthy, they should be in position to return to an NCAA Regional and be a contender in it.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Blake Trahan, IF, 213
Hits: Blake Trahan, IF, 68
Home Runs: Caleb Adams, OF, 16
RBIs: Caleb Adams, OF, 51
Runs: Seth Harrison, OF, 58
Stolen Bases: Blake Trahan, IF, 19

Wins: Austin Robichaux, P, 9
Innings Pitched: Austin Robichaux, P, 109.1
Strikeouts: Austin Robichaux, P, 88
Saves: Matt Hicks, P, 11


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