UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux has had five assistants leave his program to take Division I head coaching jobs, and one of them will also be looking to advance to the College World Series this weekend.
Maryland coach John Szefc will take his team to face longtime rival Virginia in a Friday-Sunday series in Charlottesville, Va., after knocking off host and national No. 1 seed UCLA in last weekend’s regional round. In fact, Maryland and Virginia, which won the Lake Elsinore regional hosted by UC Santa Barbara, flew back to the East Coast together on a charter flight.
“We texted each other Monday night, actually,” Robichaux said after his team had beaten TCU and Szefc’s squad had beaten UCLA in their respective regional finals. “He had to take down UCLA which is not an easy task. We’re really proud of John, he’s a good coach and hopefully he can punch his ticket this weekend.”
Szefc was Robichaux’s top assistant from 2003-08 after serving seven years as head coach at Marist. He left the Cajuns to take an assistant job at Kansas for two seasons and was also assistant at Kansas State for two years before taking the Maryland head job before the 2013 season. Maryland, Virginia and the Cajuns are the only No. 3 seeds from regional play still alive in the NCAA tournament.
Girouard recognized for academic work
Senior Tyler Girouard was named a third-team Academic All-American on Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), joining Tommy Bates in 1991 and Kevin Cantrelle in 1998 as the only Ragin’ Cajuns in the program history so honored.
Girouard graduated in the spring of 2014 with a degree in sports management and is enrolled in UL-Lafayette’s MBA program, and had a 4.0 grade point average in the fall term. The Teurlings Catholic graduate had left the team to pursue a business career in the fall but returned to the squad for the spring semester.
Girouard is third on the squad with a .335 average as designated hitter and leads the team with 18 doubles along with three homers and 30 RBIs. One of those RBIs came when he was hit by a pitch Sunday to force in the winning run in the Cajuns’ 2-1 win over Houston in the Houston regional.
“We always tell our players that we don’t want their athletic mission to undermine their academic mission,” said Robichaux, “and Tyler has never allowed that to happen.”
Girouard was one of only six players on the 33-man Academic All-America team to have a 4.0 GPA. Student-athletes must be a starter or a key reserve and have at least a 3.3 GPA by their sophomore year to be eligible for consideration.
Girouard was the only Louisiana player and one of two Sun Belt Conference players to make the team, with Georgia State catcher Joey Roach named to the second team. Two SEC players were named to the team, with Auburn pitcher Cole Lipscomb and Mississippi State infielder Seth Heck on the second team.
As it did in the regional round, UL-Lafayette will hold a watch party at “Tigue” Moore Field for each of the super regional games. Admission is free and fans can watch the game on Moore Field’s video scoreboard either from the stands or on the turf field, with lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas and small tents allowed on the field. Gates will open 30 minutes prior to each game.
Free popcorn will also be distributed and other regularly-sold concessions will be available for purchase including beer. No outside food or beverages will be allowed.
Yes, they’re familiar
This weekend’s super regional is the Cajuns’ sixth trip to Alex Box for NCAA postseason play, dating back to 1990 when UL-Lafayette went 0-2 in losing to LSU and Southern Mississippi in the South regional.
The Cajuns reached the final two one year later in the old six-team regional format before LSU won 8-5 to advance to the CWS. UL-Lafayette lost two games to Tulane and LSU in 1998, and split four games in both 2002 and 2013 with LSU winning in the final game both seasons.
Both teams advanced to the College World Series in 2000 and stayed in the same Omaha hotel. The teams were on different sides of the bracket, with LSU winning the title that year and UL-Lafayette splitting four games.
Get on the bus
The UL-Lafayette team and staff bused to Baton Rouge on Wednesday afternoon and will practice from 2:45-4:15 p.m. Thursday at Alex Box.
Ties that band
The Cajuns will again honor a close friend of third baseman Brenn Conrad with green wristbands during this weekend’s super regional. Christian Nelson died in a workplace accident in 2013, one day before the team’s appearance in the Baton Rouge regional, and the Cajuns wore similar wristbands during that regional.
Conrad asked the team to wear them again this year in the Houston regional, which began on the anniversary of Nelson’s death. The bands read “Christian’s Legacy” and are distributed through the Community Foundation of Acadiana to promote organ donation, with the foundation raising $2,500 for the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency last year.
Nelson’s organ donations saved four lives and restored sight for two others after his death. His parents, Hans and Jennifer Nelson — better known as local radio personalities Fast and Jenn on KQIS-FM, 102.1 — started the fund. Information is available at cfacadiana.org.