The 2021 roster for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns softball team continues to grow.
On Tuesday, a third Division I transfer was officially added with South Carolina sophomore Karly Heath.
Heath joins former Arizona State shortstop Jade Gortarez and Arizona pitcher Vanessa Foreman as earlier Division I transfers, in addition to junior college transfer Frankie Izard.
High school pitcher Brinson Rogers of Statesboro, Georgia, also joined the fold.
That list, of course, doesn’t include the five seniors — Kaitlyn Alderink, Summer Ellyson, Alissa Dalton, Julie Rawls and Morgan Gray — returning for a second senior season after the coronavirus prematurely ended the 2020 college softball season.
“I think our program is in really good shape despite a lot of obstacles,” UL coach Gerry Glasco said. “I’m really looking forward to the fall. The intrasquad games are going to be something with all the talent on this roster.”
Heath was an outfielder and pitcher during his year-plus seasons at South Carolina. As a freshman, Heath hit .315 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in addition to going 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA in 48 innings in the circle.
This past spring, she primarily pitched, going 5-0 with a 2.86 ERA in 44 innings. Opponents only hit .162 against her. She did walk 26 as a freshman and 21 this spring.
“I think she’s a kid that if we need her to develop as a pitcher, I think she could be a really good pitcher for us,” Glasco said of Heath. “She’s somewhat like (Carrie) Boswell in that she’s just as good a hitter as a pitcher. Out of high school, she was regarded as a hitter with pitching being a second option.”
At this point, Glasco sees a younger version of Sarah Hudek and perhaps even Rawls when pondering Heath’s future.
“I look at her as a player much like Hudek and Rawls,” Glasco said. “She’s built much like they are. She’s fast. She runs a lot like they do. I think she can turn into a really nice power hitter for us. It all depends on how much we need her to pitch.
“I see her as a player that I can spend a lot of time with and try to develop as a hitter, much like working on Sarah Hudek as a freshman (at Texas A&M).”
With Megan Kleist electing not to return, Glasco has set up several options to replace her in the rotation. The best candidate is Foreman.
“Foreman isn’t a project at all,” Glasco said. “She’s a very proven polished pitcher out of high school. I think she’ll be one of the top four pitchers in the Sun Belt next year. I expect her to be our No. 2. As of right now, I think we’ll go Summer and Foreman.”
Other possibilities include Kandra Lamb, Rogers and potentially Heath. Rogers recently gained her eligibility for her freshman season, but could be a red-shirt candidate if the more seasoned options work out.
Currently, Glasco is concerned about Lamb getting back into the country from Australia for the fall season, as well as fall signee Rebeca Laudino, who is currently back in her native Brazil. She returned in hopes of playing again for the Brazilian National team, but that didn’t transpire.
The potential roster glut also includes shortstop where Glasco will now have two highlight-film defensive shortstops in Dalton and Gortarez, who was released from the Sun Devils squad in early February after hitting .347 with 15 doubles, six home runs and 35 RBIs in 2019.
The original plan was for Gortarez to replace Dalton. Now, perhaps one will play third base or they’ll split time.
“We’ve got two of the top shortstops in the country,” Glasco said.