Fall Report: Louisiana-Lafayette
LAFAYETTE, La. – These days, there seems to be a constant buzz surrounding Tony Robichaux’s Louisiana program.
It all got revved up two seasons ago, and has only intensified during the past year, and especially this fall. The Ragin’ Cajuns have always had a solid program. This is a program that has been to the College World Series in the past couple of decades. But, while Robichaux and the Cajuns have always had their fair share of success, most would hesitate, until now, to put the previously hidden gem amongst the nation’s elite.
That’s no longer the case.
The Ragin’ Cajuns dazzled the college baseball community two seasons ago with an amazing 58-10 overall record and a national seed. Yes, the Cajuns fell short of getting back to Omaha thanks to a tough home super regional series loss to Ole Miss. But, that team ultimately set the bar for this program and once and for all put it on the national map. The 2013 team had an impressive 43-20 overall record, but this squad elevated everything, including expectations.
As exciting as Matt Deggs’ “Cajun Chaos” offense was in 2014, it was equally entertaining and intriguing to see what the Cajuns would do without Deggs last season after he accepted the head coaching job at Sam Houston State. The results, not surprisingly, were still good. Sure, the Cajuns weren’t quite as versatile from an offensive standpoint, but still were dangerous. Meanwhile, other aspects of the team picked up the rest of the slack. The Cajuns had one of the nation’s better weekend rotations by the end of the season, and that was with three freshmen in the mix, with righthander Wyatt Marks and crafty lefty Gunner Leger leading the way, while Evan Guillory, another quality arm, made 16 starts and helped this team reach another super regional, this time against LSU.
All three of those guys, plus ultra-talented freshmen Nick Lee and Hogan Harris, among others, are around and making waves this fall. And guess what? Suddenly, the Cajuns have transformed from a program once considered a high-quality mid-major to one that will be among the nation’s elite for the foreseeable future.
“Going into the fall, we had some experience from a pitching standpoint, and we added some talented young arms,” Robichaux said. “With that, when you fail as a position guy, you have eight brothers to kind of pick you up when thing go bad. As a young pitcher, you’re kind of out there on an island by yourself. So, it’s different.
“The young arms that we have, especially the two big ones [Harris and Lee] have pitched above their chronological age this fall,” he continued. “But, this team does have some other challenges. For instance, replacing B.T. [Blake Trahan] is a huge challenge, and there are some challenges from an offensive standpoint, though I think we’ll end up being fine there.”
The Cajuns promise to be an interesting, and likely highly-ranked team, entering the 2016 campaign. ULL returns an impressive crop of arms, and conventional wisdom suggests the offense will be just fine despite some key departures.
As fall workouts wind down for the Cajuns, who’s standing out this fall, and why? We’ve got that answer and much more.
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