Cajuns Baseball/Softball on the Verge of a Milestone -From the Bird’s Nest
Yesterday, The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball team won it's 51st game of the season, beating Texas State, 11-4. The Cajuns will play the winner of today's UL Monroe-Texas State elimination game tomorrow morning at 9am.
Tonight, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns softball team will face Arizona in the first game of their best of three NCAA Super Regional beginning at 8pm (ESPN1420 beginning at 7:40 and ESPNU).
With a win by each in their next game, the two programs would reach a milestone:
The two teams this year have combined for a 98-15-1 record. That's pretty amazing.
What's just as amazing is it's never happened before here at UL.
Softball has been consistently strong, with trips to the NCAA Regionals almost a given each season. And, the program has had some great seasons. Baseball has had a bunch of good ones as well.
But they've never combined for 100 wins in a season.
And, before you ask, yes, it's been done before in the NCAA. But not at UL.
Here are the top five (actually six) combined seasons prior to this year.
2005: 99 wins: Softball 51-10, Baseball 48-19
Cajuns' softball lost a pair of games in late March (ironically, to Arizona) and then went on a tear, winning 29 of their last 30. They were sent to Norman, Oklahoma for their NCAA Regional. They defeated Oregon in their first game, then lost to host Oklahoma and then Oregon to end their season. The men won the Sun Belt regular season title, clinching first place with a win in Bowling Green over WKU. The Cajuns went 2-2 in the conference tournament and lost two of three games in the NCAA Regional at Tulane, beating Southern and losing twice to Alabama. The Cajuns went just 4-6 in their final ten games, as Kevin Ardoin was somewhat ineffective and Austin Faught battled arm problems.
1989: 97 wins: Softball 48-16, Baseball 49-13
For softball, it was somewhat of a disappointment as the Cajuns set a school record for wins, but did not get a berth in the NCAA tournament. The Cajuns were competing as an independent and Yvette Girouard's team rode a tremendous pitcher by the name of Stefni Whitton to the 48 win mark. Most of the schedule, however, was against in state schools (34 games) and nine others were against non D-1 competition. Meanwhile, baseball set a school record for regular season wins. This team played fifty home games, going 43-7. Nineteen wins were against lower division competition. The Cajuns won the regular season American South championship, but lost two straight in the conference tournament.
1999: 96 wins: Softball 54-11, Baseball 42-24
There were no strength of schedule issues with Yvette Girouard's club in 1999, as they went 11-5 against ranked competition. Michigan, Hofstra, Texas, Oregon State and Oklahoma were just a few teams the Cajuns defeated during the season. They drew the #1 seed at the Amherst regional hosted by UMASS. The Cajuns defeated Manhattan, Hofstra and Cal to get to the championship round. But Cal beat them twice on the final day to deny the Cajuns their fourth trip to the Women's College World Series. The baseball team finished second in the Sun Belt but went 2-2 in the conference tournament. And, when FIU, 17-16 in the league, won the tournament, the Cajuns were sweating it out on Selection Day. But the Cajuns were sent to the Houston Regional, where they defeated Texas and #1 seed Houston (twice) to move on in the NCAA's inaugural season of Super Regionals. They won the first game against Rice, but lost the next two and, like their female counterparts, finished one win away from the World Series.
1990: 95 wins Softball 44-8, Baseball 47-18
This was softball's breakthrough season as All-American Stefni Whitton led USL to its first ever NCAA Regional. The Cajuns defeated Texas A&M, Florida State, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oklahoma on their way to the post season. The Cajuns got to host the three team regional at Lady Cajun Park and beat Texas A&M 1-0 in their first-ever NCAA regional game. The Cajuns fell to Florida State and went into Sunday having to beat the Seminoles twice. The Cajuns fell 2-1 in that game. I still say Dorsey Steamer was safe at the plate. In baseball, Mike Boulanger's team played a much tougher schedule than the year before. They again won the regular season American South title then swept through the tournament to gain an NCAA Tournament berth. The Cajuns were riding a ten game winning streak, but lost to Chad Ogea and LSU, 8-0 and were eliminated the next day by Southern MIss.
2000: 94 wins: Softball 45-15, Baseball 49-20:
Yvette Girouard's final campaign as the Cajuns' head coach was the first year of Sun Belt play. There was no regular season competition, just the tournament, which did not carry an automatic bid. The Cajuns once again played a very competitive schedule considering the geography and were rewarded with a trip to Baton Rouge for their regional appearance. The Cajuns lost to Hofstra in their first game, then upset #7 LSU before falling to Oregon to end their season. We know about baseball. The Cajuns had an incredible 29-2 start, then stumbled over the second half of the season. They didn't win their conference and didn't win their conference tournament. But they were awarded and NCAA Regional where they swept the field, then defeated #1 South Carolina in the Supers. It was on to Omaha, where the Cajuns went 2-2, including a heart stopping win over Clemson.
2004: 94 wins: Softball 60-8, Baseball 34-23.
The sixty wins are still the school record, as the Cajuns went 18-0 in the Sun Belt and swept through the tournament. They lost only six games during the regular season, and had winning streaks of 18, 14 and 13 games. They were sent to Tucson for their regional, which featured the top ranked team in America. After defeating South Carolina, the Cajuns lost to the top ranked Wildcats and then beat Temple and Northwestern, setting up a rematch with Arizona, who had been upset by Oklahoma. I got a call from Steve Peloquin who said "We're about to beat Arizona, I thought you'd want to hear it," and then proceeded to broadcast the last 1/2 inning into the telephone as well as the radio (I was out of town). The 5-0 Cajuns win sent them into the finals against OU, and Louisiana forced the "if necessary" game by beating the Sooners 12-4 before running out of gas in the final. Baseball had a team with a lot of power, and scored ten or more runs 15 times. However, they lost three of those games, which explains why they only finished fourth in the Sun Belt. They made a run in the conference tournament, going 3-1 before being eliminated by Middle Tennessee.
So many times the tandem has come close...and now they're on the precipice of getting it done. This year the men are having their best season ever. The women are hosting a Super regional, a testament to their strong season. Tonight, the women carry the banner against Arizona.
One win by each will be worth a hundred.