LAFAYETTE — If hitting truly is contagious, UL-Lafayette might be in the midst of an epidemic.
In five games last week, the Cajuns averaged more than 11 hits and nearly 10 runs per game. They set a season high in runs scored — twice. Not surprisingly, they returned to winning baseball after a brief excursion to the land of the loss.
The Cajuns are 6-1 in their last seven games as they’ve rediscovered their stroke, collecting nine or more hits in six of those seven games.
And if you listen to the players, they still haven’t hit their stride.
“Those kinds of things are going to build,” said senior Tyler Girouard, who has been especially hot lately. “We really haven’t had that big two-out double with runners at second and third that’s been contagious. Those things are contagious — big hit after big hit, they keep coming.
“We just need to get on a roll. We need to keep doing what we’re doing and getting runners in scoring position.”
It’s somewhat surprising to see how fast the switch has flipped, considering how the Cajuns were mired in their most extended offensive funk of the season of the season a couple weeks ago, one that showed in their record.
After picking up 10 or more hits in 14 of their first 21 games, the well dried up. Over a seven game span, the Cajuns tallied double digits in the hit column just once and went 2-5 in the process.
They scored one run on seven hits in a midweek loss to Nicholls State. They managed a series win against Arkansas State despite hitting just .200 as a team in first and third game of the series.
It all came to a head in the first two games of the Georgia Southern series, when they managed only 11 hits in 61 at bats, scoring a combined five runs in a pair of losses.
“Hitting is tough,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “Hitting consistently is tough. Then you’ve got to try to get nine guys to do it all at one time, and that’s tough to do.”
It’s certainly easier when Nos. 1-5 are getting the jobs done consistently, though.
The top half of the Cajuns lineup has produced at a high level during this recent offensive surge.
Blake Trahan has been his usual steady self, with a .333 average and five RBIs at the top of the Cajuns order in the last seven games.
Greg Davis and Nick Thurman, who have spent the bulk of their time at the Nos. 5 and 6 spots in the lineup, have also been steady lately, with 16 hits in their last 49 at-bats.
But nobody has meant more to the offensive binge than the suddenly potent combination of Girouard and Stefan Trosclair in the Nos. 2 and 3 spots in the order.
Trosclair is one of the few Cajuns hitters who regularly produced during the rough stretch, but he’s been unconscious at the plate of late, driving in 11 runs with five homers and three doubles while hitting .422 over the last 12 games.
But Girouard might’ve been the key to getting the Cajuns offense in motion. He has turned in his best stretch of the season in the Cajuns’ past seven games, with five doubles, a home run and five RBIs behind Trahan.
Girouard nearly didn’t return for his fifth year of eligibility this season after he graduated following the 2014 season, but Robichaux doesn’t want to think of where his team would be without Girouard’s bat.
“(Girouard) is just a seasoned guy that really loves to hit,” Robichaux said. “Every at-bat for him is important. We’re just fortunate that he decided to return, because you take that bat out of the lineup, we’re not where we’re at right now.”
Include the contributions from bottom-of-the-order players like Kyle Clement, who became the first Cajun in a quarter century to hit for the cycle last week, and it adds up to a winning formula.
The only question is how can the Cajuns maintain it? The key is to have everybody in position to contribute, as they have lately, and not rely on one guy to do it all.
“A lineup is what you are collectively, as compared to one bomber in the middle of the order,” Robichaux said. “That’s not always that good, because some people can work around one guy. It’s tougher to start working around six or seven guys.”