Clash of the titansPublished 11:50pm Friday, June 6, 2014
Ole Miss, Louisiana-Lafayette begin super regional showdown tonight
By David Brandt
The Associated Press
There’s a big banner in Louisiana-Lafayette’s locker room that celebrates the program’s only trip to the College World Series in 2000.
Ragin’ Cajuns catcher Michael Strentz hopes the school has to do a little remodeling in the offseason.
“We look at it every day, but it was 14 years ago,” Strentz said. “We want to change that and put our picture up there.”
Louisiana-Lafayette (57-8) is two wins away from making it happen. The Ragin’ Cajuns will host Ole Miss (44-18) tonight in the first game of a best-of-three super regional series in the NCAA Tournament.
The Rebels are trying to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 1972. They’ve been agonizingly close several times over the past decade, but lost four times in Super Regional play, including to Texas in 2005, Miami in 2006, Arizona State in 2007 and Virginia in 2009.
The series will feature two of college baseball’s best offenses.
Ole Miss has a .304 team batting average despite playing in the pitching-dominant Southeastern Conference. Louisiana-Lafayette has hit 66 homers in 65 games and has seven regulars hitting above .300.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have already shown their resiliency in the postseason. They lost their NCAA Tournament opener to Jackson State before reeling off four straight wins to capture the Lafayette Regional.
“They obviously have a really good offense. I’ve heard all year about how good they are,” Ole Miss pitcher Chris Ellis said. “But we’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve done — throw strikes and hit our spots.”
Louisiana-Lafayette has also proven its mettle against some of the best teams in the SEC. The Cajuns beat LSU in a midweek game, took two out of three from Alabama in a weekend series early in the season, and then beat Mississippi State twice in the regional.
ULL coach Tony Robichaux said that experience will help against Ole Miss’ pitching staff.
“We refer to them as SEC arms. We’ve faced Alabama’s arms, we were able to face LSU’s arms, we were able to face Mississippi State’s arms. We’ve seen a lot, so we feel we’re prepared,” Robichaux said. “We’re not stupid enough to believe that you’re going to score 100 runs off somebody, but we have seen some good arms leading into this and that will help our hitters.”
Ole Miss at Louisiana-Lafayette
TV: ESPN2; Radio: 1490 AM
Today: 7 p.m.
Sunday: 8 p.m.
Monday: 6 p.m. (if necessary)