|Middle Tennessee softball will face Louisiana-Lafayette Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Softball Championship Tournament.
Lafayette enters the tournament as the top seed in the conference with a record of 19-5 in the Sun Belt, 45-9 overall, while the Raiders come in as the eight seed with a conference record of 8-16, 18-31 overall.
In the regular season Middle was swept by the Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns by a total score of 28-1 over three games. In that series Middle gave up 34 hits, walked 10, committed five errors and struck out 18 times.
The top two homerun hitters in the conference will be trouble for the Raiders as they play Lafayette, with Christi Orgeron hitting 20 through the season and Gabriele Bridges hitting 21. The two players also rank second and third in the conference respectively.
In terms of team batting average, Lafayette ranks first in the Sun Belt hitting an impressive .333 as a team. Middle Ranks last in the conference at just .257. Runs scored are also heavily in favor of Lafayette with the Ragin’ Cajuns scoring 255 more runs on the season than the Blue Raiders.
However, ranking just behind Bridges with a batting average of .378 is Middle’s Corrie Abel. The team will need far more than Abel’s bat to upset top seed ULL. With no other players on the team batting over .300, the team will need to play far above what they have to this point.
Middle will also see a heavy dose of excellent pitching no matter who ULL puts on the mound. The team’s top starter, Ashley Brignac, enters with a record of 27-5 and an era of 1.24 and 212 strike outs.
If Lafayette decides to pitch their second or third option they do not lose much. Christina Hamilton enters with an 11-2 record and 1.41 era while Shelbee Rodgers has a record of 7-2 and a 2.22 era.
The Raiders will likely pitch sophomore Janele Robinson. Robinson enters with an era of 5.16, but has shown the ability to shut teams down as she did in a 2-1 wins over Troy and Ole Miss, a 4-2 win over Troy, a 3-2 win over Western Kentucky and a 3-1 win over Lipscomb.
Robinson will need to be at her best for Middle Tennessee Wednesday night.
If the Blue Raiders do win they will take on the winner of FIU and Troy, if they lose the game against ULL they will take on the loser of the same game.
Middle was swept by FIU in the regular season but kept all three games fairly close. The team does match-up well against Troy, taking two of three with two very good pitching performances from Robinson.
No matter what happens in the team’s first game they will likely be hoping to face Troy in the second round for the best chance to stay alive in the tournament.