UL Softball: Minimizing The Damage
We've all heard Louisiana Ragin' Cajun head baseball coach Tony Robichaux use the phrase "minimize the damage."
It's a very simple phrase that's easy to understand, and quite true; meaning when you face some adversity, just don't let things spin totally out of control.
You can use "minimize the damage" in you everyday personal life.
If your car broke down, the air conditioner went out, and the kids got sick, you may be a little short on cash, and may be late on a bill.
Nobody likes this, but it happens, to good people.
The worst thing to do in a situation like this would be to go to a casino, or try to hit the trifecta in the first race at a race track, to try to recoup the money and make things better.
"Minimizing the damage" would be toughing things out by eating a lot of macaroni and cheese.
Over the last 6 weeks, we've seen the Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball program "minimize the damage."
During that time, the program lost one of the best softball minds in the history of the game, two All-Americans who were headed for the university Hall of Fame, and a kick in the gut, in terms of publicity.
Granted, things got bad, but they could have been much worse.
The Cajuns simply "minimized the damage."
First, the program lost Michael Lotief, one of the best coaches in the history of the game.
They were able to go out and make a great hire in Gerry Glasco, one of the more respected talents in the country, who I think will solidify himself as the next outstanding coach in program history.
Then came the transfers, which hit Louisiana hard.
They lost two All-Americans, in shortstop DJ Sanders and outfielder Aleah Craighton, as well as pitcher Alyssa Denham, the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year in 2017.
You just don't lose a coach the caliber of Lotief, and the elite players that transferred, along with the seniors from last year's squad, like Alex Stewart, Haley Hayden, and Kassidy Zeringue, and not feel it.
Understand; no program in the country wouldn't be hit hard by that.
But also understand; not many programs in the country could have "minimized the damage" as well as this program has.
Glasco put together an impressive coaching staff, and also brought in a couple of top-notch transfers, in outfielder Brittany Rodriguez and Brittany Holland.
Are Rodriguez and Holland, Sanders and Craighton? No. And they shouldn't be expected to be.
The latter are two All-Americans. It would be totally unfair to compare any two to those great players.
But again; we're not trying for a quick fix here. We're just trying to "minimize the damage".
Rodriguez and Holland are good. Two players that every program in the league would fight for.
Rodriguez was a two-time first-team All-Southland Conference selection at Lamar, and Holland was a first-team junior college All-American at Central Arizona College last year.
Again, the Cajuns suffered some major hits, but I think they've put themselves in position to be really good next year.
Lexie Comeaux, a second-team all-conference pick returns at catcher, along with Miranda Grotenhuis, who was the projected opening day catcher last season, before she suffered a season-ending knee injury.
I also think the infield will be just fine. As a matter of fact; I think it can be really good.
Third baseman Kara Gremillion, a first-team All-Louisiana and All-Sun Belt Conference pick will be back, and the rest of the infield, while still in question, is not without great talent.
Alissa Dalton, a transfer from Oklahoma, who can play anywhere, will certainly play somewhere.
Dalton, who was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of Cy-Fair High School in Texas, transferred to Louisiana from Oklahoma.
I haven't seen Dalton play, but I hear from people I trust that she's an elite talent, who Cajun fans are going to enjoy watching play.
Because of her versatility, it's hard to say where Dalton will play, but my money is on the shortstop position.
Holland, who played shortstop in junior college, is also a candidate for that position, but more likely a candidate for second base.
Kara's sister, Kourtney Gremillion, who redshirted last season, is an option at first base. She has a power bat.
There are plenty of other players that can help in the infield, like sophomore Alaina Guarino, along with newcomers Jolie Readeaux, Cori McCrary, Caitlin Garcia, Sarah Koeppen, Kimber Cartemelia, and Casidy Chaumont, who may also see time in the outfield, and Carrie Boswell, who can also pitch.
Now, only Kara Gremillion returns from last year's team, so you have to allow time for development, but I think Louisiana will have the best infield in the Sun Belt Conference next year.
The exciting thing about the infield is that as talented as it is, there are no seniors, so it's only going to get better.
If this group matures and develops like I think they can, we may be talking about it being one of the best infields in the country heading into the 2019 season.
Rodriguez will see a lot of playing time in the outfield, along with Kelli Martinez, a defensive standout, and a two-year starter.
Beth Ashley, who started a number of games last year, returns, while transfers Raina O'Neal (Texas Tech) and Kalyn Watts (Southeastern Louisiana) will also be vying for playing time.
Samantha Bradley, who can also pitch, could see time in the outfield, and yes, Chelsea Lotief, who was impressive in limited playing time last season, is also on the roster.
Glasco could also move one of his infielders to the outfield.
Truthfully, I think the outfield may have more question marks than the infield, but the talent is there to "minimize the damage."
The biggest thing for the Cajuns will be finding 2-3 pitchers.
They lose Stewart a former All-American, and Denham, the SBC Freshman of the Year a season ago.
Senior Kylie Jo Trahan, junior Allison Deville, and sophomore Summer Ellyson are all scheduled to return, but 1-2 of the younger pitchers, which include redshirt-freshmen Kirsten Pruett and Makenzie Carpenter, and true freshman Casey Dixon, will have to provide quality innings if this team is going to be a credible post-season threat.
It's still only December, so more could happen. The Cajuns could lose another player to transfer, or they could add another one. But I think they're set-up to be pretty salty again next season.
You have to allow some time however; they will have a new coaching staff, lots of new faces, and only three seniors, including only one (Kelli Martinez) who is a position player that was here last year.
All that being said, believe it or not, there's lots of reasons for optimism. And that's an accomplishment by itself.
Again, losing the talent that this program lost would cripple most, especially a "mid-major" one, but I still think the Cajuns have the pieces in place to be pretty good next year.
It's called "minimizing the damage."