2021 UL Softball Preview: The Catchers
This is the second part of a four-part Louisiana Ragin' Cajun 2021 softball preview.
Today; the catchers.
Catcher looks to be in good hands as Julie Rawls, a First Team All-Sun Belt Conference and All-Louisiana selection in 2019, as well as a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference pick this year, who can also play the outfield, returns for her third season with Louisiana.
A senior from Hallsville, Texas, Rawls was outstanding in her first season with Louisiana in 2019, after transferring from Northwestern St., hitting .360, to go along with 10 home runs and 49 runs batted in.
Those numbers were good enough to land Rawls first-team All-Sun Belt Conference, first-team All-Louisiana, and second-team NFCA All-Central Region honors.
Last season, in the shortened campaign, Rawls hit .315, to go along with five home runs and 18 runs batted in in only 24 games.
A left-handed catcher, Rawls should be even better behind the plate this season, her third as a catcher, after being converted from the outfield, where she compiled 17 assists at Northwestern St. in 2018.
Speaking of the outfield, look for the Cajuns to try and keep Rawls fresh throughout the season by giving her a little more time in the outfield, meaning that Bailey Curry and/or Melissa Mayeaux could see playing time at the catching position.
A junior from Frankfort, Kentucky, Curry hit three homers with 12 RBI's last season, her second as a Cajun after transferring from Toledo following the 2018 season.
Curry, who will get at-bats, will likely see time at first base, designated player, and catcher this season.
A junior from France, Mayeaux saw action in 23 of the 24 games for UL last season, including 19 starts, primarily at third base, hitting .294 with four homers and 19 RBI's in her first season with the Cajuns.
Mayeaux is going to be a valuable, versatile player for Louisiana this season, who is likely to see playing time at multiple positions, including catcher.
The lone freshman who figures into the catching position is Sophie Piskos, a native of Paris, Tennessee.
Piskos, who can also play corner infield spots, helped The Baylor School, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019.
Piskos, like most of the UL freshmen, could be a redshirt candidate, in which case she'll have four seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning in 2022.
If she's not redshirted, Piskos could be a valuable bench commodity for the Cajuns this season.
Louisiana is excited about its catching prospects, this year, and in the future.
Lousiana opens its 2021 regular season schedule this Friday, taking on Missouri St. and Baylor in the first day of play in the 35th Louisiana Classics.
Last season, Louisiana was 18-6, ranked in everyone's top ten, and number one in the RPI poll when the season was shut down in mid-March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
We'll never know how things would have played out, but it's almost certain UL would have hosted a regional for the first time since 2016, and very likely would have hosted a Super Regional for the first time since 2014.
Had this been the case, Louisiana would have headed to the NCAA Softball Tournament for the 22nd-consecutive year, while making an NCAA Regional appearance for the 30th time in the last 31 years.
The only year since 1990 in which UL failed to appear in a regional was 1998.
Louisiana is one of only 9 programs to appear in an NCAA Regional every year since 2000, joining Alabama, Arizona, Florida St., Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Washington.
Tomorrow: the infielders.