It’s been a rockier road than most expected this season for the No. 16-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns.
Last weekend’s 6-0 sweep of two conference foes, however, allowed coach Gerry Glasco’s team to gain some confidence while moving its overall record to 22-6 overall and 8-1 in Sun Belt play.
Now it’s on the road again in hopes of building on that success beginning with a holiday weekend road trip to meet Georgia State starting with a noon doubleheader Friday in Decatur, Georgia.
“We’ve got 23 games left,” Glasco said. “I told the girls after the game (Monday), I think we’ve got 23 games before postseason. It’s over that course of 23 games I believe we’ll have to develop our ball club as a team. That’s my job as a head coach.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of teams that I’ve coached that didn’t get better at the end of the season. You just have to trust and believe and have faith the things we’re doing as a coaching staff are going to make them better.”
One good sign is the pitching looks to be stable again. Sophomore Kandra Lamb (11-2, 2.01 ERA, 76⅔ innings, 96 strikeouts) has remained consistent after a hot start and senior Summer Ellyson (7-4, 2.38 ERA, 76⅓ IP, 61 Ks) is back on track.
“We’re making some adjustments on our coaching staff,” Glasco said. “We’re looking at everything right now. When we start losing, there’s nothing that’s untouchable. We just have to get better. The coaches all want to win. We want to do whatever it takes to win for the kids.”
The pitching has been aided by a consistent defensive lineup that has Kaitlyn Alderink looking natural at third base, freshman Sophie Piskos now playing behind the plate and injured starting catcher Julie Rawls beefing up the outfield defensively in right field.
The biggest question mark is scoring enough runs. As encouraging as the 6-0 home weekend was, two of the wins were 1-0. The big innings were few and far between. Rawls’ injury has resulted in a huge slump, her average down to .276 with two home runs and 24 RBIs.
Ciara Bryan (.473, four HRs, 22 RBIs) is having a big year and Alissa Dalton (.395, three HRs, 20 RBIs) has gotten hot, but the next leading hitter, Justice Milz, is down to .281 and she wasn’t available last weekend after suffering a concussion in the UTA series.
Consequently, small ball is more of an option than Glasco ever dreamed this season.
“I like this lineup because it’s fast. We’re very athletic. I really like that as a coach,” he said. “We just have to find a way to win until we can keep getting players hot and add them back into the lineup and get them comfortable.
“I feel like we’re finally coming together as a ball club and using the pieces we have.”
It was a shock to the team when it lost a game at UTA (7-20, 1-5) two weeks ago.
This weekend presents a similar situations in last-place Georgia State (12-15, 0-7), although the Panthers look more potent on paper than the Mavericks did.
Georgia State is hitting .285 with four hitters batting .300 or better. Leading the way is Daisy Hess at .379 with eight homers and 33 RBIs.
The Panthers have a team ERA of 4.08 with 105 strikeouts in 176⅔ innings.