Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball Opening Weekend, What We Learned
This weekend was exactly what you hoped it would be when it comes to off the field activities honoring and memorializing the legend that is Tony Robichaux.
On the field, however, it was almost the exact opposite of what you were hoping to see on such an emotion-filled weekend.
Even with the play on the field not being what the team would have hoped for I think there's still a lot that can be taken from this weekend.
Here's what we learned about this team after opening weekend:
1. This Pitching Staff is Going to be Good
One of the greatest concerns of Cajun Nation after the passing of Coach Robe was how exactly the pitching staff would be without the guidance of the Book of Robe who molded many young pitchers.
Conor Angel worked out of early trouble on Friday night pitching in a pressure-packed season opener as we've never experienced before. In inning one he loaded the bases with nobody out and got out of it with a strikeout and a double play. In the second inning, he worked around a leadoff double. Angel pitched solid ball into the sixth inning throwing just under 90 pitches and things seemed to synch up for him once he found his devastating sinker. He struck out seven.
With Will Moriarty and Carter Robinson, both pitched into the fifth inning and gave the Cajuns a chance to win. Moriarty is a guy who's going to rely on hitting his spots, changing speeds, and keeping batters off-balanced forcing weak contact. As far as Robinson goes, he was solid and I believe he'll be better when he's not under the weather which we found out Monday that he was.
Justin Wilson made one bad pitch Friday night out of the pen, Jacob Schultz looked extremely sharp Friday as well and on Sunday we saw seven pitchers throw out of the bullpen.
2. The Offense Felt The Pressure of the Weekend
Seven hits and three runs over 27 innings of play against Southeastern and Louisiana Tech this weekend. The numbers were as bad as they sound with a lot of weak contact and lazy flyballs. This seemed to be a product of an emotional weekend honoring Coach Robe, the hitters wanting to perform so badly and in turn, tried to do too much. I said it on the air Monday, it's like being in quicksand as best explained from the cinematic classic The Replacements, QB Shane Falco:
So that's basically what happened to the offense this past weekend, am I worried? Absolutely not, every athlete understands trying to do too much or wanting to perform at such a high level so badly, it's human nature. Now that the opening weekend has come and gone I believe this team will find its groove offensively and the Wolf Pack mentality will be on full display very soon.
3. A Defensive Adjustment I've Never Seen
During the games on Saturday and Sunday Tremaine Spears got the start at second base over Connor Dupuy and Spears is just learning the position after coming in as an outfielder. Louisiana Tech has a predominately left-handed-hitting lineup, so what did Coach Deggs do? He had his best fielder, third baseman Jonathan Windham, switch positions with Spears mid-inning playing the percentages that more times than not the ball would be hit to second base than third base. In all honesty, it is a brilliant play/strategy from Matt Deggs and it helps that both Spears and Windham are versatile enough to change positions mid-inning. This is how Deggs described what he calls that play:
The Cajuns will play five games this week, four of the five will be at home.
Tuesday they travel to Hammond to face Southeastern, Wednesday they'll duel Tulane and this weekend they welcome in Virginia Tech.