Ragin’ Cajuns tabbed favorite to win 2023 Sun Belt softball title
Sun Belt’s preseason awards signal the approach of the softball season which opens Feb. 10-12
LAFAYETTE – Preseason nationally ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Softball, the three-time defending Sun Belt regular season and tournament champions, has been chosen as the favorite to win the 2023 Sun Belt Conference softball title and six team members were selected to the 2023 Preseason All-Sun Belt Softball Team, the conference office announced on Thursday (Feb. 2, 2023).
The Ragin’ Cajuns (47-13, 23-4 Sun Belt in 2021) were the unanimous choice in the preseason SBC coaches poll, receiving all of the possible 12 first-place votes. Louisiana was selected as the conference’s preseason favorite for the fifth (5th) consecutive year.
Sophie Piskos (C), Stormy Kotzelnick (1B), Alexa Langeliers (SS), Jourdyn Campbell (3B), Maddie Hayden (OF) and Karly Heath (DP) were the six Ragin’ Cajuns voted onto the Preseason All-SBC Team.
Louisiana led the entire league with six honorees on the preseason team, the next highest amount was three selections by Texas State.
The preseason poll and team were voted upon by the Sun Belt’s 12 head coaches.
Sun Belt softball teams begin play on Friday, February 10. The 2023 Sun Belt Conference Softball Tournament will take place May 10-13 at Yvette Girouard Field at Lamson Park in Lafayette.
Louisiana, which has been an NCAA Tournament participant each year since 1999 and has only missed the event once since 1990, begins the 2023 season at Lamson Park from Friday-Sunday, February 10-12 hosting the 37th Annual Louisiana Classics.
The official season opener is set for Friday, Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m., when the Ragin’ Cajuns begin play in the Louisiana Classics with a matchup against Lafayette College.
2023 Sun Belt Softball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Louisiana (12) – 144
2. Texas State – 130
3. South Alabama – 118
4. Troy – 99
5. James Madison – 93
6. Marshall – 80
7. Southern Miss – 68
8. App State – 63
9. ULM – 44
10. Coastal Carolina – 43
11. Georgia State – 27
Georgia Southern – 27
2023 Sun Belt Softball Preseason Awards
Preseason All-Sun Belt Team
P – Jessica Mullins, Texas State
P – Olivia Lackie, South Alabama
C – Sophie Piskos, Louisiana
1B – Hannah Shifflett, James Madison
1B – Stormy Kotzelnick, Louisiana
2B – Kelly Horne, Troy
SS – Alexa Langeliers, Louisiana
3B – Jourdyn Campbell, Louisiana
3B – Sara Vanderford, Texas State
OF – Ciara Trahan, Texas State
OF – Maddie Hayden, Louisiana
OF – Mackenzie Brasher, South Alabama
OF – Katy Houston, App State
DP – Karly Heath, Louisiana
DP – Iyanla De Jesus, Coastal Carolina
Preseason Player of the Year: Kelly Horne, Troy
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Jessica Mullins, Texas State
Louisiana is coming off the program’s 23rd consecutive 40-win season and NCAA Tournament appearance. In the 2022 season, the Ragin’ Cajuns placed a conference-high nine players on the All-Sun Belt team, produced five NFCA All-Central Region performers, recorded a program-record .351 season batting average and generated the most home runs in Gerry Glasco’s tenure (82).
As he heads into Year No. 6 guiding the Ragin’ Cajuns, Glasco aims to continue molding his influx of young talent – the bulk from the No. 1 recruiting class that debuted in Spring 2022 – into a strong and durable national postseason contender.
Last spring, Glasco directed and mentored a lineup that featured at most two upperclassmen and as many as five freshmen, and developed them into a championship and NCAA Tournament team. Despite the youthfulness, Louisiana advanced to Championship Sunday of the NCAA Clemson Regional.
Fast forward to now, and the youthful Ragin’ Cajuns group is a year wiser and still has many other veteran pieces in place to form a dangerous combination.
The three key pieces to last season’s pitching success are intact (Meghan Schorman, Kandra Lamb and Sam Landry) and all but two starters in the lineup return headlined by leading home run hitters Alexa Langeliers and Karly Heath (13 each), leading run-producer Stormy Kotzelnick (51 RBI), top hitter for average Jourdyn Campbell (.392) and stolen-bases leader Maddie Hayden (28-of-34).
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