The 2024 college softball season is officially underway, which means that over 100 teams at the Division I level are competing for the final eight spots in Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series.
The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns got their 2024 season started off the right way, winning their first three games of the 38th annual Louisiana Classics. The Cajuns defeated Chattanooga 21-2 in five innings, Cal 8-0 in five innings, and Chattanooga 5-2. In their season opener, 17 of the 21 runs against the Mocs came during two-out rallies.
Now sitting at 3-0 to start to season and already with 34 runs scored, the offense picked up where it left off last season after their 24th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cajuns also won their first regional under Gerry Glasco by defeating LSU on Regional Sunday in Baton Rouge.
Let’s look at some of the biggest takeaways from the first three games of the season.
As I mentioned above, the Cajuns have scored 34 runs in the first three games of the season. In the process, Louisiana has a team batting average of .419 with 31 runs batted in. Mihyia Davis is the batting leader with a .556 average during opening weekend while Jourdyn Campbell and Sophie Piskos are the leaders in the RBI category with six each.
Maddie Hayden continues to be a quiet storm of production for the Cajuns, contributing to the success with efficiency. The junior is hitting .400 with a pair of doubles and four RBI.
“It felt good,” Hayden said after their season-opening win over UT Chattanooga. “As soon as we stepped on the field, we felt the fan’s energy, we felt each other’s energy and it was fun to just come out here, have fun, and just get ahead early.”
Another key piece in the early success of the Cajuns is Sam Roe, a transfer from Florida who started at third base for Gerry Glasco’s team on opening day. She contributed with a three-run blast in her first at-bat at Lamson Park.
“I just said finally,” Roe said postgame. “Coach Glasco and I have been working on getting some more power and getting behind the ball more. I’m just so glad that I’ve got the opportunity to work with him and have him guide my swing.”
This offseason, the Louisiana coaching staff got retooled after the dpearture of longtime assistant Lacy Prejean, who became the head coach at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Glasco hired Shellie Landry from McNeese as an offensive/hitting coach. Landry played her entire collegiate craeer with the Cajuns as the STM product was first-team all Sun Belt her final three seasons with the porgrams. Then Hunter Veach came in to work with the defense after spending last season with Texas A&M and the previous two seasons with UAB. During the first three games, the five pitchers Glasco said would be used have all seen action and have combined for a 1.17 ERA in 18 innings.
“I’m proud of all of our pitchers,” Glasco said. “I wanted to get all my pitchers out there on opening night let them know we need them. They all shut the radar gun clock off quick and we know that we have a talented staff and think that was huge with both catchers getting behind the plate.”
Louisiana is looking to continue their success in the circle from last year, but replacing pitchers like Meghan Schorman, Kandra Land, and even Karly Heath looks to be a tough task. However, transfer Lexie Delbrey looked solid in her first couple outings, with four strikeouts in her first five innings.
The Cajuns have all of the pieces to make a deep postseason run, which is largely what the expectation is after making a Super Regional appearance a year ago and only losing three players from that squad. But the questions that loom over every team in college softball will ring true for the Vermilion and White as well: can they stay healthy?, Will the chemistry stay strong through a 50+-game schedule?, and can they get a little lucky? One of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard in sports is: “to win a championship, you have to have three things: talent, hard work, and a little bit of luck.”
The Cajuns will finish out the Louisiana Classics on Sunday with two games before hosting Baylor for a three-game series at Lamson Park next weekend. The matchup with the Bears as well as their trip to Oklahoma later in the non-conference schedule will tell Cajun Nation a lot about what this team will do in 2024.
Matt Miguez is the host of the Miguez Mindset Podcast on ESPN Southwest Louisiana’s YouTube channel. He is also a contributor for ESPN 103.7 Lafayette & 104.1 Lake Charles.