It was only the first Sun Belt Conference series of the season.
But what the UL Ragin’ Cajuns were able to accomplish in winning the series against Coastal Carolina is something coach Matt Deggs hopes will be the turning point in the season.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Cajuns (14-11, 2-1 Sun Belt) try to keep it going with a three-game holiday weekend road series at UL-Monroe.
“It’s always very rewarding to see the fruits of your hard work,” Deggs said. “Any time you challenge and push, it’s very important that everyone sees the direction that you’re capable of heading. We were blessed to be able to see that over the weekend. The boys and the coaches got rewarded for all the hard work they put in.”
After taking off last Monday and Tuesday, Deggs said the staff focused on improvement in three areas — limiting walks, errors and strikeouts.
”Making some adjustments mentally and physically,” Deggs said. “They really challenged them with a lot of accountability. We had a great week of practice.”
Leading that charge at the plate was freshman right fielder Carson Roccaforte, who upped his average to .333 after hitting .400 with four RBIs in the series.
There were several candidates on the mound. Ace right-hander Spencer Arrighetti continued to dominate as expected in moving to 4-1 with a 1.06 ERA.
“Our best games have come with him on the mound, but it was good to see and the challenge (last) weekend was, ‘Let’s play well without our ace on the mound,’ ” Deggs said. “We had some guys step up, which was good to see. We’ll go as our pitching goes.”
Austin Perrin got his third start and faced the minimum through six innings, and Jack Burk didn’t pitched five scoreless innings allowing one hit.
While Arrighetti is scheduled to start Thursday's game, the other starters will depend on matchups — which may just be the case for the rest of the season.
“You do have some horses in the stable over there, but who matches up against who is very, very important," Deggs said. "As far as just stuff, I don’t think we have anybody who just trumps anybody with the except of the way Spence has pitched the ball. Now, who matches up better against who, I think is the question.”
The Warhawks (10-10, 3-3) are hitting .264 with 108 runs, 29 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs and 45 stolen bases. ULM is led by a trio of .300 hitters in Ryan Humeniuk (.329, two HRs, 13 RBIs), Michael Cervantes (.327, one HR, seven RBIs) and Trave Henry (.315, eight RBIs).
The Cajuns are hitting .245 with 117 runs, 45 doubles, six triples, 21 homers and 37 steals.
Ben Fitzgerald leads the way at .345 with seven homers and 15 RBIs.
Right-hander Ty Barnes (1-1, 4.43 ERA, 20⅓ innings, 18 strikeouts) is expected to counter Arrighetti and southpaw Cam Barlow (3-2, 4.91, 22 IP, 29 Ks) is slated to start Saturday.
On the defensive side, Brett Borgogno may be available this weekend. On the mound, the bullpen continues to provide plenty of options.
“More guys continue to present themselves when you look at (Peyton) Havard and David Christie’s pitching performance (Monday) was just outstanding,” Deggs said. “(Will) Moriarty has undergone a little bit of a stroke change. His fastball is now exploding at the plate. He got a lot of swings and misses at the fastball (Monday).
“At the end of the day, I trust all of them.”
The Sun Belt race already appears to be a competitive one with West leader Little Rock (11-8, 3-0) the only undefeated team after only two weekends of league play with eight of the 12 teams only playing three games.