SOFTBALL: Ragin’ Cajuns release 2017 season schedule

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LAFAYETTE – A season-opening 23-game homestand at Lamson Park, which features three tournaments, a Top 25 weekend series against Alabama and a midweek doubleheader with Baylor, and a road midweek game at Texas A&M are the highlights of the 2017 regular season schedule for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball team.

Coming off a fifth straight trip to the NCAA Super Regionals and fifth straight Top 15 finish in the final polls, head coach Michael Lotief and his staff have put together a schedule that will showcase the team to its loyal fan base at Lamson Park.

There are a total of 36 games, spread over 23 playing dates, scheduled for Lamson Park. Three weekends of tournament play are slated for the facility: Feb. 10-12 (Louisiana Classics), Feb. 23-26 (Mardi Gras Classic) and March 3-5 (Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational).

The Ragin’ Cajuns are spending the first four weekends of the season at Lamson Park, not leaving the facility until the Sun Belt-opening weekend March 11-12 at Appalachian State.

The wait won’t be long for the much anticipated series with Alabama, as the Crimson Tide, led by former Ragin’ Cajuns assistant coach Pat Murphy and All-American Alyson Habetz, visit Lamson Park Feb. 17-19 for a series of three single games.

“Because of our great fan support and the festive softball environment with a ‘Cajun’ flair created at Lamson Park – and the sophistication and appreciation that this community has for great competition – we continue to be able to attract some of the best teams to come here,” Lotief remarked. “Also, the financial support and unwavering contributions continue to allow this program to grow and pursue excellence.

“I look forward to setting new season ticket sales and attendance records this upcoming season as we chase our dreams together,” Lotief added. “Thank you to our fans for making the University of Louisiana and the Ragin’ Cajuns a destination for great softball, an awesome Cajun experience and showcasing the best of our community.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns start the 2017 season, and begin the quest for a 19th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, on Feb. 10 facing DePaul to open play in the 31st Annual Louisiana Classics at Lamson Park. Louisiana will also face Ball State, Iowa State and Southern Miss during three-day tournament.

The following weekend, only the Ragin’ Cajuns and Alabama will take the field at Lamson Park. The weekend series, scheduled for Feb. 17-19, is the first for Louisiana against an SEC team at home. The Crimson Tide, which last visited Lafayette on March 27, 2003, are returning the Ragin’ Cajuns 2015 trip to Tuscaloosa.

Louisiana hosts two more tournaments after the Alabama series with the Mardi Gras Classic set for Feb. 23-26 and the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational (March 3-5) which starts the March portion of the schedule.

A March 7 doubleheader with Baylor brings the string of season-opening home games to a close. The Ragin’ Cajuns and Bears are meeting for the fourth consecutive season.

Louisiana’s first road trip of the season takes the squad to Boone, N.C., for the Sun Belt-opening series at Appalachian State (March 11-12). The Ragin’ Cajuns return to Lamson Park the following weekend, welcoming UT Arlington for the Sun Belt home opener March 18-19.

The longest stretch away from Lamson Park follows as the Ragin’ Cajuns travel to Mobile, Ala. (March 25-26), and Statesboro, Ga. (April 1-2), back-to-back weekends for Sun Belt series with South Alabama and Georgia Southern.

Louisiana finishes April with 10 of 14 games at Lamson Park which includes SBC series with Troy (April 8-9), Georgia State (April 22-23) and Coastal Carolina (April 29-30). April’s road outings are a SBC series at Texas State (April 14-15) and a 2016 NCAA Lafayette Regional final rematch with Texas A&M in a midweek game on April 19 in College Station, Texas.

The regular season concludes May 6-7 in Monroe at ULM, then the postseason begins May 10-13 with the Sun Belt Conference Championship in Troy, Ala.

The Ragin’ Cajuns, 46-9 during the 2016 season, return a total of 26 players from the 2016 squad as Louisiana enters its 15th season under Michael Lotief’s guidance.

The Ragin’ Cajuns return the majority of their everyday starters including career .360-hitter Haley Hayden and 2016 All-American Aleah Craighton and DJ Sanders who both clubbed 18 home runs last season. All pitchers from last year’s unit, which ranked Top 10 nationally in ERA, return including 2016 All-American Alex Stewart (29-6, 1.94 ERA).

Ragin’ Cajuns Softball has won three straight Sun Belt Conference championships and 14 overall in the 16 years of league competition since 2001. The program has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 18 consecutive years and 26 times overall in the past 27 years dating back to 1990. Last season, the Ragin’ Cajuns hosted an NCAA Regional at Lamson Park for the fourth time in the past five years (2012, 2014-16) and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the fifth straight year (2012-16).

For more information on Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball, as well as all of Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics, visit Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/RaginCajunSoftball),Twitter (@RaginCajunSB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSoftball).

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