LAFAYETTE — The meat of the Louisiana-Lafayette lineup has come to life at precisely the right time.
The Cajuns are riding a 10-game winning streak entering this week’s NCAA regional tournament at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, and unsurprisingly, the middle of the order hitters have played a large role in that surge.
Senior outfielder Kyle Clement, the usual No. 3 hitter, has gone 15-for-40 (.375) at the plate during the Cajuns’ 10-game winning streak, including a pair of three-hit games. He’s scored a whopping 13 runs, driven in another eight and socked a pair of late-inning go-ahead homers.
Second baseman Stefan Trosclair went 0-for-5 in the first game of the winning streak, but he’s been on a tear since. In his past nine games, the senior second baseman has picked up 14 hits in 34 at bats, a .412 average, with four doubles, three triples and one home run.
He has also started to thrive in his run-producing cleanup role. Before the winning streak started, Trosclair, who drove in a team-best 53 runs last year, only had 23 RBIs on the season. But he’s driven in 13 in his past nine games.
While those two have picked up the momentum-changing hits, nobody on the team has been more consistent of late than No. 5 hitter Brenn Conrad.
His average had dipped to a season-worst .258 after going 0-for-8 in a three-game series against Appalachian State, but since he’s picked up hits in 11 of his past 12 games, raising his average to .289 on the year.
In those 12 games, Conrad has hummed along at a .421 clip (16-for-38) while driving in 12 runs.
The Cajuns got to this point largely on the strength of their pitching and defense, but the recent offensive explosion driven by the three senior hitters in the middle of their order has shown what kind of potential they have.
“You’ve got to win baseball games in a lot of different ways,” Trosclair said. “Being able to learn how to pitch and play defense was something that has carried us through the season, and once we started clicking on offense as well, we have all three aspects of the game clicking, we’re dangerous.”
No rotation yet
Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said he has a good idea of which pitcher is going to start in the regional opener against Princeton, but he’s not ready to make an announcement yet.
Blame the Memorial Day holiday.
“We were having a hard time getting reports in on Princeton because it was Memorial Day and a lot of the coaches weren’t in their offices,” Robichaux said. “Some coaches that played them had ended their season, so some of them had rolled out already.
“We wanted another night to pull all the charts together and meet again in the morning. We’ll know (Wednesday). We kind of know, but we just want to make sure before we let it out.”
From the cheap seats
The last time the Cajuns hosted a regional, Trosclair was watching from the stands.
The former LSU-Eunice star arrived a year after the Cajuns went 58-10 on their way to a national seed in 2014. That doesn’t diminish his vivid memory of the setting, though.
“The atmosphere was incredible,” Trosclair said. “It was only my third game ever to come watch at UL, and I get the chills thinking about it right now. It was awesome.
“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like this weekend. It’s going to be packed, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”