UL Softball Opens Season Against NC State – Game Preview
The 9th-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team begins their 2015 regular season schedule on Friday afternoon, as coach Michael Lotief's squad plays host to the North Carolina St. Wolfpack in the opening day of play in the Louisiana Classics.
First-pitch is scheduled for 3 o'clock, and you can hear all the play-by-play action on ESPN 1420 & espn1420.com, beginning with the pre-game show at 2:45 pm.
Louisiana, who will be starting their 35th season of softball play, returns seven starters off of a team that went 49-10-1 in 2014, including a trip to the Women's College World Series.
Offensively, the Cajuns hit a .302 last season, along with 90 home runs 356 runs batted in, and 45 stolen bases.
Junior catcher Lexie Elkins, a Third-Team NFCA All-American in 2014, returns to lead a powerful UL offensive attack, after batting a .388, along with 24 homers and 74 RBI's a season ago.
In the circle, Louisiana returns senior right-hander Christina Hamilton, a Second-Team NFCA All-American last year, after going 29-4 with a 1.54 ERA., and senior right-hander Jordan Wallace, who compiled a 14-3 record last year, and a 73-14 record.
North Carolina St., members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, returns seven starters from last year’s squad, which finished with a record of 36-18 and only graduated five seniors.
The Wolfpack, who are ranked number 31 in the preseason NFCA poll, which was released last week, is picked to finish third in the ACC this year, behind Florida St. and Notre Dame.
Last season, NC State finished the season with a 36-18 record, including a 16-8 mark in ACC play, advancing to an NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season, where they won the first two games of an NCAA Regional, before losing to fourth-seeded Georgia.
Only in their 15th season of NCAA softball, NC State has appeared in four NCAA Regionals, while capturing one regular season ACC title, along with two ACC Tournament crowns.
Offensively, the Wolfpack hit a .275 in 2014 with 67 home runs and 226 runs batted in, along with 39 stolen bases.
Senior shortstop Renada Dais led the way for NC State last season, hitting a .375, along with 19 homers and 39 RBI’s, while junior third baseman Lana Van Dyken, who also returns this season, hit a .361 with 2 home runs and 17 RBI’s.
Last season, NC State out-hit the opposition, .275/.240, and out-homered opponents, 67/39, while stealing 39 bases in 49 attempts
In the circle, the Wolfpack returns senior right-hander Emily Weiman, who went 30-15, with a 2.73 ERA., garnering First-Team All-ACC accolades last season, after winning 33 games in 2013.
The top newcomer for the Wolfpack will likely be catcher/first baseman Maggie Hawkins, who transferred to NC State after being a two-year starter at Hofstra, where she accumulated nine homers and 48 RBI’s, while being tabbed a First Team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection a season ago.
Louisiana leads the all-time series with NC State, 2-0.
The Cajuns will play NC State on Friday at 3 o’clock, before playing twice more on Saturday, taking on Central Arkansas at 12:30 pm, and Eastern Illinois at 3 o’clock.
UL wraps-up play in the tournament on Sunday at 2 pm, when they face Eastern Illinois.