There are a lot of things UL’s softball program is still hoping to accomplish this season, beginning with this weekend’s regular season finale against UL-Monroe at Lamson Park.
Topping that list is properly honoring the outgoing senior class after Saturday’s 2 p.m. game.
Achieving that goal became possible last week with the athletic department’s announcement that 100% capacity was possible again for spring sports.
Frankly, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns winning the Sun Belt Conference regular season championship isn’t a new concept.
“More than anything, the most exciting thing in our program right now is us having our partners in this thing back — our fans — fill up Lamson Park and make it the best atmosphere in college softball,” UL coach Gerry Glasco said.
The series begins a 6 p.m. Thursday and concludes Saturday.
I don’t have the words to tell you how appreciative I am of our fans," Glasco said. "The players, I know, are the same way or even more so. It’s going to be awesome.
“We’re going to make it fun. You want to be here in the seventh inning on Saturday. We’re going to make it fun when it ends — for the players and for the fans. We’re going to give those fans a chance to show their appreciation for all their hard work and commitment.”
Eight players will be recognized on senior day Saturday.
With all due respect to the other seven, one player's career at UL deserves the loudest ovation when her name is announced.
Summer Ellyson is the only local product among the group departing as a former Teurlings Catholic star and she’s been a part of the program the longest.
“A hometown kid that’s come here and has been here forever,” Glasco said. “I’m really thrilled that’s she’s going to be able to finish her career with the fans to cheer her when she walks off that field for the last time.”
Well said, coach.
Most players make an impact on a program and some a major one. A special few, though, leave a legacy.
When the painful transition from Michael Lotief to Glasco took place after the 2017 season, Ellyson staying was huge.
When the gut-wrenching news came last March that the coronavirus was shutting down the college softball season, Ellyson’s decision to return for another season despite a wedding on the horizon was key for this season’s outlook.
“You’ve got to remember, Summer Ellyson has not only done a lot of amazing things, but she’s chosen to be here through two different coaching staffs,” Glasco said. “It’s a special group of kids, much like Lexie Comeaux and Kara Gremillion and Kourtney Gremillion — the kids that stayed here during that transition period and were so important and so critical.”
Glasco gets it. There’s just no minimizing the impact Ellyson’s had on this program.
Of course, there are others as well; a list of enormously talented players who kept this powerhouse program heading in the right direction.
Remember when shortstop DJ Sanders transferred to Oregon and there appeared to be a gaping hole left at shortstop?
The solution was immediate with the arrival of Alissa Dalton, who has played there for four seasons.
There are others who have graced Yvette Girouard Field for more than one season. Uniquely memorable players like Julie Rawls, Kaitlyn Alderink and Carrie Boswell.
Rawls could play outfield or catcher at an extremely high level. Alderink brings a smile to old-school fans with her style of play, including her unexpectedly smooth transition from second to third base earlier this season.
Boswell arrived as a pitcher but has also made an impact with her bat as well.
The one-year performers — Ciara Bryan, Jade Gortarez and Justice Milz — left UL fans wishing they had been here much longer.
Bryan has been the team’s MVP this season, while Gortarez and Milz have dominated in stretches and are huge parts of UL’s postseason hopes the rest of the way.
“I’m so elated and thrilled that the seniors like Jade and Ciara and Justice, who haven’t ever played in front of a full stadium of crazy Cajun fans, will get to experience that,” Glasco said.
The newcomers certainly missed out on the fanfare, but all eight will get to finish their careers with their fans this weekend.
Like it should be.