When it comes to the Baton Rouge regional this weekend, the game that everyone wants to see is the LSU Tigers and the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns face off. The in-state rivalry has a chance to play itself out once again and both seem destined to face off in the winner’s bracket game on Saturday.
However, the Cajuns cannot overlook their first opponent on the road to Oklahoma City ans that’s McNeese State, They’ve been on a roll with 12 straight wins and a Southland Conference championship win got them to the big dance.
Head coach Michael Lotief knows exactly what the Cowgirls brings to the table and will not overlook this team on Friday. “We’re not looking past McNeese I can guarantee you that. The first game is a dogfight.”
Looking back at the Cajuns other regionals this thought process that Lotief has holds some weight with most of their opening regional games being decided by three or fewer runs. This won’t be what many Cajuns fans have seen all season. Barring anything unusual, you will not see it end after five innings due to run-rule at 3 pm on Friday in Tiger Park.
“I’ve never been in a game where the other team says, ‘Hey man, you’re UL’ and they just bow down and let you win. I don’t ever remember the first game of the regional being a gimme.”
My Game, My Ball: Alex Stewart has been the rock for a Cajuns pitching staff that doesn’t have a whole lot of depth according to Lotief. During the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the senior started in every game and her performance earned her the Most Outstanding Player award.
However, the championship game might have ended up differently if not for Stewart’s tenacity. According to Lotief he said to her “’Alex, let the freshman throw. Let’s give her a chance and season her just in case we need her for the regional.’ She wasn’t having any of that. She said ‘Coach, this is my game and this is my ball.”
Hostile Environment: While most of the 2017 campaign saw the Cajuns within the friendly confines of Lamson Park, if they want to make it to the Women’s College World Series, they will have to survive the hostile environment. Tiger Park will definitely be a hostile environment based off of what happened the last time these two teams faced off in a regional.
“What’s good about this team is they’ve all been in hostile environments during the postseason.” Lotief said of his starting lineup that has learned how to handle the outside factors, “If you’re going to win the Women’s College World Series, you’re going to have to do it away from home. This group understands what a hostile environment it’s going to be.”