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UL coach Gerry Glasco is hoping his Ragin' Cajuns batting order heats up this weekend in Oxford, Mississippi.

The head coach part of UL softball coach Gerry Glasco was elated with how his No. 7-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns won each game in the Sun Belt Conference tournament this past weekend in San Marcos, Texas to earn the Sun Belt’s automatic berth into NCAA regional play.

The hitting coach part of him, however, wasn’t nearly as pleased.

In the championship game, Glasco’s Cajuns won 1-0 on an unearned run, collecting only five hits in the game.

UL earned a spot in the finals with a 5-2 win over Coastal Carolina on just three hits.

Even the tournament’s opener was a relatively modest 4-3 win over Texas State on five Cajuns hits.

Going back even farther, the Cajuns beat ULM 3-0 in the regular season finale, although UL stranded six in the nine-hit performance.

Not since the April 27 win over Coastal – 8-0 behind nine hits – has Glasco’s lineup produced anything resembling an explosive performance.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried,” Glasco said of the 1-0 score in the finals. “I wasn’t happy at all. We won the game 1-0 and the hitting coach in me (wasn’t happy). My wife walked up to me and said, ‘Hey, act happy,’ because I was so mad about the one run. I was dwelling on the negative.”

Certainly, he was pleased with winning. His standards for his talented lineup, though, are very high ... 27-game hitting streak or not.

“I wasn’t happy about one run,” he said. “In my vision before the game, I figured we’d get out and score a run in the first inning. And at that point, I thought we were going to score four, five, six runs at the minimum. And then we just laid down and didn’t get the job done offensively. That really bothers me if I’m really honest about it. It really bothers me.”

So what’s the explanation for the late-season hitting slump? Here are a few options to chew on.

One, the SBC tourney opener was only UL’s second game in 10 days due to two cancellations in Monroe and final exams. Hitting is about rhythm and timing.

Perhaps a few long, hard days of practicing this weekend will get the offense back on track.

Secondly, while UL won every Sun Belt game it played all season, conference teams do know more about you than any other team. Making that even worse, five of UL’s last seven games were against Coastal Carolina.

No matter how talented the Chanticleers’ staff is, that’s a very detailed book on UL’s hitters in a short period of time.

Over the years, another theory is elite hitters often hit better against high-velocity pitchers than others.

Glasco’s glimpse into UL’s preparation last week offers a fourth possible explanation.

It seems the Cajuns were counting on potentially playing No. 2 Troy twice in San Marcos, not No. 6 Coastal Carolina.

“Last week was about getting ready for Troy,” Glasco said. “Everything was about getting ready for Troy, all week. And then we never saw Troy. That may have hurt our hitters a little bit as the week went on.”

Then there’s the mental aspect of UL’s position down the stretch. When you’ve won every Sun Belt game and you’re in the heavy favorite in each contest, playing not to lose almost seems inevitable.

“As far as if it’s continuous,” Glasco said, “I think there’s some things going into the last of the season, I think the kids felt pressure of finishing the Sun Belt undefeated. You begin to play a little bit different, playing with some expectations, instead of playing loose and free and hungry. If I’m right about that, (it’ll stop) as the regional starts.”

This weekend, it'll be opponents UL hasn’t faced all season long. The Cajuns haven’t played Southeast Missouri since 2016, Ole Miss since 2009 and Chattanooga since 2014.

Staying up late worrying, Glasco’s done a little research.

“Since April 1, we’ve averaged about six runs a game,” he said. “Before April 1, we were probably averaging eight runs a game. So we’ve got to put together a better offensive effort.”

Rest assured his team will get that message loud and clear before it ever leaves for Oxford.

NCAA Oxford Regional Schedule

(Friday-Sunday, Ole Miss Softball Complex)

Friday's Games

G1: 3:30 p.m. – UL vs. Southeast Missouri (ESPN3)

G2: 6:00 p.m. – Chattanooga vs. Ole Miss (ESPN3)

 Saturday's Games

G3: 12 p.m. – Game 1 vs. Game 2 winners

G4: 2:30 p.m. – Game 1 vs. r Game 2 losers

G5: 5 p.m. – Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3

 Sunday's Games

G6: 2 p.m. – Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 winners

G7: 4:30 p.m. – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6

Ticket info: OleMissTix.com

 


Follow Kevin Foote on Twitter, @FooteNote.