First-year coach Gerry Glasco said he learned a lot about his UL-Lafayette softball team during its successful first weekend.
He also figures the learning curve goes up this week — a lot.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (5-0) swept through their own Mardi Gras Classic to open the season, but the task gets bigger starting Thursday when UL-Lafayette hosts Oregon State (4-1), which beat two ranked teams last weekend in Arizona State’s Kajikawa Classic. That single game is at 6 p.m. at Lamson Park, before the Beavers head to Baton Rouge for LSU’s Purple and Gold Challenge over the weekend.
Two days later, the Cajuns welcome second-ranked and returning national finalist Florida in a 3 p.m. Saturday doubleheader and a 1 p.m. Sunday finale. The Gators are 5-0 entering a Wednesday night game against North Florida and have outscored their first five opponents 42-3, including four shutouts.
“That’s two pretty good teams,” Glasco said. “Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to learn and then win later. This is going to be a collision of kids that are used to winning, and I’m anxious to see how our kids respond.”
The Cajuns won in several different ways last weekend, giving up only three runs in wins over Samford, Eastern Illinois and Evansville, rallying twice in a two-day, rain-delayed nine-inning 14-10 win over Eastern Illinois and rolling past Iowa 9-0 in five innings in Sunday’s tournament finale.
“I was especially proud of that fourth game that carried over a day and played in a completely different atmosphere,” Glasco said. “They took the lead, we responded, we took the lead and lost it, we had a good downpour and a lot of adversity, and we responded in the ninth and put the game away. That showed me a lot about our kids, that they’re going to be tough and hard-nosed.
“Then we turned around and had our most mature game so far against Iowa. Our pitching was outstanding and we added to our lead the whole game.”
Senior Kylie Jo Trahan (3-0, 0.47 ERA) threw a one-hitter against Iowa, facing only three batters over the minimum and allowed one run and five hits in 15 weekend innings in earning Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week honors. That wasn’t even the most impressive weekend circle performance, with sophomore Summer Ellyson recording 20 strikeouts out of 21 outs and allowing only three Evansville batters to put the ball into play in a Friday 7-1 win.
Glasco said he will likely use both against Oregon State, and that the two and freshman Casey Dixon would share the weekend starts against the Gators. Dixon started the Mardi Gras tournament opener against Samford and allowed two hits and struck out six over four innings in a 7-1 victory.
“I thought the first weekend showed that we have three pitchers capable of throwing a good game,” Glasco said. “I was proud of Jamie, a true freshman starting the season’s first game and she gave us a good performance.”
Oregon State faced higher-level competition in its openers at Tempe, beating No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 22 BYU along with Missouri and Indiana and losing only to 25th-ranked Georgia.