Hitting is hard.
Some claim it’s the hardest thing to do in sports.
UL senior outfielder Orynn Veillon isn’t about to argue with that statement.
“I’ve been doing this for five years and I’m still trying to figure it out,” said Veillon, whose Cajuns open a weekend Sun Belt Conference series against Texas State at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Russo Park. “Hitting is difficult.”
When the St. Thomas More product begin his collegiate career, he was a pitcher who could also hit.
One has to wonder how many more punches in the gut the UL baseball team can take after this past weekend’s sweep at the hands of Sun Belt’s fi…
One bullpen session into it, he suffered an injury and then came the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Off to LSU-Eunice he went for a year to work on just being a hitter. The learning process went pretty well. He hit .363 with seven doubles, seven triples, seven homers, 51 RBIs and 38 stolen bases.
It was good enough to earn an offer from UNO. In two years as an outfielder with the Privateers, he hit .292 with 28 doubles and 84 RBIs.
“I basically just had to figure out what kind of hitter I was and what pitches I was better at hitting and where my swing played in the zone,” Veillon said. “Being on both sides, I’d definitely say hitting is more difficult than pitching. Before my surgery, I thought pitching was so easy.”.
After graduating at UNO, Veillon returned home to Russo Park in hopes of sewing up a few old wounds. After all, his first go at being a Ragin’ Cajun didn’t go as planned.
To UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux, Tuesday’s 6-5 comeback win over No. 14 LSU in front of 8,667 in Metairie was certainly encouraging.
“I was really disappointed,” Veillon said. “Coming in with the class of Gunner (Leger), Evan Guillory, Wyatt (Marks) and Dylan Moore. Watching all of those guys do everything that I thought I was going to be able to do my freshman year kind of bummed me out for sure.
“It was kind of like, ‘Man, that could have been me up there doing all of this too.’ But I’m definitely blessed to be back to show that I could have been here, I could have played here and I definitely had the talent and the passion. I’m just very blessed to be back.”
At the plate, however, things weren’t going as Veillon planned until 13 games ago. Before the Arkansas State series in early April, he was batting .248 with only two multiple-RBI games.
Since then, Veillon is batting .370 with 13 RBIs and four games with more than one RBI.
METAIRIE — Truthfully, UL senior Handsome Monica doesn’t really enjoy the challenge of following a teammate who just blasted a ball out of the park.
“Basically, I’ve been seeing the ball a lot better,” Veillon said. “I’ve been waiting for a pitch that I can drive. I’m not really chasing bad pitches a little more. In the first half of the season, I was chasing really bad pitches and getting myself out. When the second half started, I just decided to relax more and not be so antsy.”
In other words, his mentality was simply too aggressive. He vehemently disagreed with the old Little League chant: “Good eye, good eye, a walk is as good as a hit.”
The result was a lot of swinging and that was as low as .194 three weeks into the season.
“When I get in the box, I want to hit the ball,” Veillon said. “I don’t want to walk. I want to do something, get on base another way. But I figured out that you can’t get a hit every time and I was just kind of getting myself out. So I just decided to sit on some pitches, try to get long at-bats and just be more patient in the box.”
These days, Veillon is hitting .285 with five doubles, nine homers, 29 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
Things didn't look good for UL pitcher Jack Burk a few days ago.
“Yes, I’ve had some good at-bats and some good timely hitting, but everyone does their part,” Veillon said. “We’ve definitely been swinging it well and hopefully we can keep it up.”
And much like his own season, Veillon warns against those who have already written off the Cajuns.
“We just telling ourselves that we need to be more consistent,” he said. “That’s really all it is. We do it all the time at practice. We’re definitely prepared. There isn’t a situation we’re not prepared for. It’s more of a mental block right now.
“Oh yeah, we can still do this. If we just play our game — hit like we’re supposed to, pitching like we’re supposed to and play defense like we’re supposed to — I don’t think there’s a team in this conference that can be us.”
It wasn’t like it was the first time he’s had big games during the 2019 season for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns.
Texas State at UL
Series: 6:30 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday
Site: Russo Park
Radio: KPEL 96.5 FM
TV: Cox Sports (Friday)
Records: TxSt 28-13, 12-6; UL 20-24, 8-10
UL hitters: Todd Lott (.323, 5 Hrs, 26 RBIs); Hayden Cantrelle (.321, 8 HRs, 24 RBIs); Hunter Kasuls (.291, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs). Team: .264, 237 runs, 44 HRs, 80 SBs.
TxSt hitters: Jaxon Williams (.353, 4 HRs, 22 RBIs); Dalton Shuffield (.344, 1 HR, 16 RBIs); Jaylen Hubbard (.331, 5 HRs, 22 RBIs); Will Hollis (.313, 3 HRs, 30 RBIs). Team: .282, 270 runs, 33 HRs, 38 SBs.
UL pitchers: Brandon Young (2-3, 4.04 ERA, 35.2 IP, 26 H, 22 BB, 47 K); Jack Burk (1-1, 3.58 ERA, 27.2 IP, 30 H, 6 BB, 19 K). Team: 4.81 ERA, 396.2 IP, 396 H, 197 BB, 339 K, .260 OBA.
TxSt pitchers: Connor Reich (5-1, 2.94 ERA, 64.1 IP, 51 H, 11 BB, 68 K); Nicholas Fraze (6-3, 4.65, 62 IP, 53 H, 20 BB, 59 K); Hunter McMahon (4-4, 4.83, 59.2 IP, 56 H, 24 BB, 51 Ks). Team: 4.20 ERA, 358 IP, 324 H, 146 BB, 320 K, .242 OBA).