Series Preview: Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns


The Terps (5-2) are rolling to start the season, coming out victorious in each of their last five games. After sweeping Maine in a home series last weekend, Maryland visited VCU for a midweek matchup and beat the Rams for a second time this year.

Freshman phenom Maxwell Costes has introduced himself into the Maryland lineup with force. Taking home Big Ten Freshman and Player of the Week after his performance in the Maine series, the Terps’ designated hitter delivered the biggest hit in the team’s win against VCU.

With the game tied in the seventh inning, Costes stepped up to the plate with runners on. Earlier in the game, Maryland had failed to drive players in, stranding seven to that point. The freshman put bat on ball and drove in third baseman Taylor Wright for a late-inning lead.

Sophomore outfielder Randy Bednar secured another multi-hit game against VCU. He is the only Terp to get a hit in all seven games this season, with an average of .370 and seven RBIs. In the previous series against Maine, Bednar hit two out of the park, which is a team high.

“My approach at the plate is to keep things as simple as possible,” Bednar said. “Great hitters don’t think at all up at the plate, they just react and they just see the baseball. So that’s just what I try to do.”

Senior shortstop AJ Lee added a much-needed insurance run in the ninth, when he poked a ball through the hole, driving in the fourth run of the game for the Terps. Closer John Murphy came in to finish the job, after a bullpen-heavy day where nine different pitchers took the mound, and earned his third save of the year. Maryland took the game 4-3.

Maryland’s next opponent brings it down south, where the Terps face the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette in a three-game series. The two teams have never met before, so this  Belt Conference opponent is new opponent to the Terps.

“We haven’t really been in a hostile environment yet,” head coach Rob Vaughn said.  “We’re gonna see one on Friday night.”

Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (1-6, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Last Season

Louisiana Lafayette finished with a 34-25 record in 2018, which was its sixth consecutive season with a winning record. The Ragin’ Cajuns are no stranger to the NCAA postseason tournament, playing in the Super Regional in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In their conference tournament last season, they lost in the second round, failing to advance to an NCAA Regional.

This Season

The Ragin’ Cajuns have come out to a bit of a rocky start this season. In its opening series against Texas, Louisiana Lafayette dropped two out of three games, then followed up with a midweek loss to Louisiana Tech in walk-off fashion. The last series played by the Cajuns was last weekend, where they got swept in a road battle against Sam Houston State. That makes it four straight losses for the team, a polar opposite compared to Maryland’s five straight wins. 

Hitters to Watch

Louisiana Lafayette has heavily relied on the top of their order for most of the production this season. Second baseman Hunter Kasuls has dominated opposing pitchers in his time at the plate. With a team high .387 average on the year, the senior middle-infielder is doing damage from the two-hole. In the last series against Sam Houston State, Kasuls earned five hits in 13 at-bats.

The Ragin’ Cajuns power in the lineup comes from utility player Handsome Monica. The redshirt senior has been productive in the middle of the order, hiting two out of the park so far and also driven in six runs — both team highs. Monica is batting .300 at the dish this season, second-best behind Kasuls.

Relievers to Watch

The Cajuns have used a variety of arms out of the bullpen this season, with 13 different arms coming in the middle of games. Brock Batty has been one of the more effective relievers for the team this year. In 4.1 innings pitched, the second-year southpaw owns a 2.08 ERA. His best outing of the year came against Texas, where he threw three hitless innings and struck out four.

The go-to closer for Louisiana Lafayette is junior Austin Bradford. The righty has the only save on the team, coming from the win against Texas. In 1.2 innings of work, Bradford has yet to concede a run to opposing hitters.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sr. RHP Hunter Parsons (1-0, 1.38 ERA) vs. R.Sr. LHP Gunner Leger (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

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After an uncharacteristic start on Opening Day, Parsons showed his usual signs of dominance in his outing against Maine. He threw eight scoreless innings with five strikeouts, and only gave up three hits in what was his first win of the season. The Terp ace leads all starters with a 1.38 ERA, a stat he cut in half after his last appearance.

Leger has been the ace on Louisiana Lafayette’s staff since he joined the team. In his junior campaign, he took home the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year. However, he did not pitch last year due to Tommy John surgery followed by leg surgery. In his first start against Texas on opening day, the southpaw tossed five scoreless innings. He was scratched from the lineup against Sam Houston State to rest his arm for Friday’s matchup against Maryland.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET

Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (1-1, 6.10 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Dalton Horton (1-0, 0.82 ERA)

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Thompson was another Maryland pitcher who benefited from the Maine series last weekend. After getting roughed up in his Division I debut against Coastal Carolina, the righty came back and tossed 6.2 innings with nine strikeouts. He went without walking anyone and let up two runs in the win.

Horton is another starter on the Cajun’s staff with an ERA under 1.00. In his first start, the Texas-Christian transfer picked up the only win of the season against Texas, where he tossed five innings and allowed only one run. His last start against Sam Houston State, the lefty threw six scoreless inning and only gave up two hits.

Probable Starting Pitching Matchup 

Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP Trevor LaBonte (0-0, 2.84 ERA) vs. TBD

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LaBonte made his first-career start in the third game of the Maine series and shut the lineup down. In five innings, he allowed three hits and one run. The Black Bears came back late in the game to tie things up, thus throwing the freshman’s win out the window. On the year, LaBonte is holding to a .190 average in two appearances.