Editor’s note: This is a first in a series of stories on the Cajuns baseball team as they look to next season. Today the focus is on the position players.
LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team is looking for nine good players.
The Cajuns have some key positions to fill offensively and defensively going into next season, but it should bring back some solid pieces to build around, and for those positions that need to be filled, coach Tony Robichaux is keeping all of his options open.
This fall, Robichaux plans on getting players comfortable at multiple positions in order to get his best nine players on the field.
“We want to try to stay athletic,” Robichaux said. “We also are going to move a lot of guys around this fall like we did with Joe (Robbins), like we did with Kennon (Fontenot). We did it late with Kennon, where if we’d done that all fall, we might know more instead of waiting to try to make him a left fielder midway because we’re not hitting in left field.
“You’re going to see a lot of people moving around for us, because we think it makes us a better team.”
At bare minimum, the Cajuns will need to find replacement starters in both corner outfield spots, shortstop, first base and designated hitter, as Blake Trahan and four seniors will not return for the 2016 campaign.
“The players should change; they’re going to change because of the draft,” Robichaux said. “What shouldn’t change is your culture.”
The culture he’s referring to is the winning culture that resulted in back-to-back NCAA super regional appearances. With his team armed with the confidence that comes with two straight super regional runs, Robichaux said he can find the players to plug into those spots.
“We’ll be replacing somebody, but I also believe the players coming in are good,” Robichaux said. “We’re continuing to upgrade our talent in recruiting, which is evident by these freshmen. And I think when you bring in a higher-caliber freshman, he’s going to respond sooner than later.”
The toughest position to fill will be shortstop, where someone will have to fill Trahan’s All-American shoes.
Trahan brought more to the team than a high batting average and speed at the top of the order.
“Any time you lose a shortstop like that, that’s one of the toughest positions on the field,” Robichaux said. “What he does for you is he calms the defense, he calms the people around you, he makes the pitchers want to locate the ball down and get the ball on the ground.
“He does a lot of good things for you, and now he will be gone. But we have a bunch of guys coming in that I think somebody’s going to be able to hold that position down.”
Robichaux named four players who could replace Trahan.
There’s Robbins, who flashed some brilliant defensive ability at third base against LSU in the