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UL designated hitter Connor Kimple is the reigning Sun Belt Conference Hitter of the Week.

The vision is getting a little clearer each day.

School is over and there are now only two weekends left in the Sun Belt baseball schedule.

Currently, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns are in a three-way tie with Texas State and Little Rock for second place in the Sun Belt West race along with Arkansas State just one game back.

Two games ahead of the logjammed trio is University of Texas-Arlington, which the Cajuns visit for a three-game series at Clay Gould Field in Arlington, Texas beginning 6:30 p.m. Friday.

The Cajuns are 26-20 overall and 9-9 in league play, while the Mavericks are 23-25 and 11-7.

On one hand, that quick assessment of the Sun Belt West race is a bit aggravating for UL coach Matt Deggs.

“If we just play any semblance of how we’re capable, we’re probably walking away with it,” Deggs said. “That’s the frustrating part, but it just proves we’re not there yet. But there’s still a ton to play for.

“Probably every time that shows up for that (Sun Belt) tournament (May 24-30 in Montgomery, Alabama) is going to have to win it.”

On the other hand, Deggs is convinced the Cajuns have only just now begun to fight.

“I think the biggest thing is they love each other, they love playing together and they love playing for each other,” Deggs said. “I don’t think anyone in that dugout wants us to go home anytime soon. I’ve been a part of teams where that’s the case, but I certainly haven’t sense that on this one for sure.”

Naturally, any successful conference weekend begins with effective pitching. These days, though, Deggs is focused on offensive issues.

“We need to continue to improve our offensive production for sure,” Deggs said. “Way too many hits with not enough runs and not enough getting it done with guys on base, taking too many fastball on the white and not being able to execute on command when called upon. That’s got to go way up, way up.”

The beauty of the offense these days is it’s not red-hot hitters like Drake Osborn (.336, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs), Brennan Breaux (.312, 1 HR, 23 RBIs) and Connor Kimple (.298, 5 HRs, 23 RBIs).

It also has depth thanks to Brett Borgogno (.318, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs), Josh Cofield (.316, 1 HRs, 12 RBIs) and CJ Willis (.268, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs).

Additionally, it also has late contributors like Jonathan Brandon.

“He missed all of last season with a broken leg,” Deggs said. “Really and truly, he hadn’t played in a year and a half. He’s a grinder. He’s not the most talented, but he plays extremely hard. He’s versatile, so he can do a few things for you offensively. He runs well enough.

“I think it’s a matter of him getting an opportunity. He’s playing a good brand of defense and he’s running the bases extremely well right now. He’s putting the ball in play and putting it in play hard.”

The Mavericks are hitting .250 as a team with 39 homers and 25 stolen bases, compared to UL at .274 with 43 homers and 76 steals.

As for the pitching, the expected matchups are right-handers in UL’s Spencer Arrighetti (7-4, 2.87 ERA) and UTA’s Carlos Tevera (2-4, 2.83) in game one. Game two starters are righty Connor Cooke (6-2, 1.91) and lefty Kody Bullard (6-3, 3.16) for the Mavs.

In the finale, the Cajuns are keeping it TBA against right-hander Daniel Moffat (4-4, 3.34).


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.