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UL pitcher Summer Ellyson will be opening up Oxford regional play against a Southeast Missouri team with 72 home runs on the season.

The games must be played, but there’s little question the No. 7 UL Ragin’ Cajuns will be the most postseason-tested program at the 2019 Oxford regional.

While the Cajuns will be making their 29th all-time appearance, it’ll only be the fourth in a row and all-time for host Ole Miss and second for Southeast Missouri State, which last reached a regional in 1999. No. 4-seed Chattanooga, meanwhile, will be making its 14th appearance.

“I think it’s a real good opportunity for our girls,” UL coach Gerry Glasco said of the Oxford regional field.

That doesn’t mean anything is locked on stone, however. The Cajuns (50-4), who have made it to 11 straight regional finals, will open with Southeast Missouri’s Redhawks (45-16).

“The key with Southeast Missouri is they can really hit,” said Glasco, who said he grew up in a town near SEMO’s campus. “We’ve got to keep them off the board until we can get the lead. It’s similar to playing Coastal (Carolina). A little better than Coastal offensively and their pitching is a little better than Coastal as well. I think they’re a lot like UNC-Greensboro (who UL beat 6-2 on April 16).

“This is one of the best teams they’ve had in years. They can really hit and they can really pitch. They’re going to be a great first-game opponent.”

SEMO is encoring a breakthrough season last year when the Redhawks’ 33-20 record and fourth-place Ohio Valley finish was the best since 2009.

The Redhawks have achieved much of that with a .305 team batting average, 78 doubles and 72 homers, compared to .338, 86 doubles and 57 homers for the Cajuns.

The host Rebels (37-17), meanwhile, hit .273 as a team with 35 homers and 113 stolen bases with a 2.28 ERA.

“They’re a very well-coached team with a lot of speed,” Glasco said. “They beat you with their speed. So I think if we play Ole Miss, whichever team starts booting the ball around, they’re going to lose. The team that plays clean and doesn’t let the pressure bother them will be the team that comes out of there.”

While UL relies solely on right-hander Summer Ellyson, Ole Miss has the 1-2 punch of lefty Molly Jacobsen (13-6, 1.97) and righty Brittany Finney (15-9, 2.81).

With four everyday players hitting from the left side in Alissa Dalton, Julie Rawls, Sarah Hudek and Raina O'Neal — not to mention Kourtney Gremillion — Glasco said it's possible he'll tweak the lineup if UL faces a southpaw. For instance, Bailey Curry is actually UL's top hitter against left-handers this season.

“Defensively, if we can put pressure on their infield, we could maybe benefit from that, but they’ve been through the SEC,” Glasco said. “Their numbers aren’t going to look as good as they really are, because they’ve been through that SEC grind.”

Chattanooga is led by 18-year coach Frank Reed, who has led the Mocs to nine of their 14 NCAA appearances. The Mocs (37-15), who won the Southern Conference tourney as a No. 3 seed, are hitting .296 with 38 homers and rely on pitching’s 2.17 team ERA.

“Coach Frank has been there forever,” Glasco said. “We played them a lot when I was at Georgia and they always have good athletes. The Chattanooga area is kind of a hotbed for softball and he slips in there and takes a lot of talented players.”


Follow Kevin Foote on Twitter, @FooteNote.