#12 Louisiana Softball 2014 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #1 Sun Belt
#12 Louisiana Softball 2014 Preview
Louisiana Team Page


University of Louisiana Lafayette’s season, by most standards, was successful by finishing the year ranked #15 nationally. They compiled 47 wins against 15 losses overall with a 19-4 Sun Belt Conference record. The Ragin’ Cajuns made an earlier than expected exit from the conference tournament, but received an NCAA invitation and a #2 seed at the nearby Baton Rouge Regional. Taking advantage of good pitching and defense, ULL posted three straight shutouts, two against host (and #9 ranked) LSU, to advance to the Ann Arbor Super Regional. Splitting a 4-3, eight inning loss and a 5-0 shutout win, Michael Lotief’s charges suffered a heartbreaking, late inning defeat at the hands of Michigan’s Wolverines.

2013: 47-15, 19-4
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Michael Lotief, 12th year

Field Players:
Third Baseman Natalie Fernandez is the lone returning senior and led the 2013 ULL returners in hitting at .345, runs (44), and hits with 61. Sophomore left fielder Shellie Landry will look to follow up a stellar freshman year when she drove in 61 runs, much on the strength of 24 extra base hits (15 HR, 9 doubles). Designated player Sara Corbello and second baseman Samantha Walsh started all 62 games, and right fielder Leandra Maly is now a junior. Gone are four of the top five hitters who accounted for 52 home runs and 217 RBIs in Nerissa Myers, Sarah Draheim, Brianna Cherry and Matte Haack.

Six pitchers will comprise the 2014 staff, but junior Jordan Wallace is the undisputed ace. Posting 255.1 innings last year with a 32-9 record, 1.70 ERA and 382 strikeouts, Wallace was one of the country’s best. She will be supported by returning circle mates Victoria Brown (Soph., 68.1 IP, 3.79 ERA, 40 K) and Kristina Hamilton (Jr., 35, 3.60, 32). Freshmen hurlers Alex Stewart from Zionsville, Indiana, Macey Smith from Houston and Lexie Rouse (Macon, Georgia) represent ULL’s future.

Who to Watch:
Fernandez and Wallace. The elder statesmen of the team in years and production, these two will not only be looked upon to lead on the field but also off. No less than seven freshmen join the team and will need to be shown the ropes if they are to contribute. And as many as six sophomores will be heavily relied upon as well. How well Fernandez and Wallace can balance production and leadership will be key to the all important team chemistry component of a young team.

Final Projection:
The Ragin’ Cajuns have reached the Super Regionals two straight years, but have not advanced to the World Sreries since 2008, with their last Sun Belt Championship coming in 2011. The chances of a ticket to Oklahoma City rest on the arm of Wallace and how fast Lotief can plug in new pieces to replace the departed offense of the graduated players. ULL will battle defending conference champion South Alabama and the rest of their Sun Belt foes, but it should only be jockeying for position…look for the Cajuns to post another 40 win season and be invited to the dance.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Shellie Landry, LF, 194
Hits: Natalie Fernandez, 3B, 61
Home Runs: Shellie Landry, LF, 15
RBIs: Shellie Landry, LF, 61
Runs: Natalie Fernandez, 3B, 44
Stolen Bases: Three tied with 4

Wins: Jordan Wallace, 32
Innings Pitched: Jordan Wallace, 255.1
Strikeouts: Jordan Wallace, 382
Saves: Victoria Brown, 1


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