LCU or LSUA: What team will rank higher in the RRAC?
RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Opening day is right around the corner for both Louisiana Christian and LSUA as they get ready for the 2023 campaign.
2022 saw both Rapides Parish universities competing on the diamond for the first time as conference foes in the RRAC. The Wildcats and the Generals split the regular season series last year at two wins apiece, so the deciding factor would be determined in the conference tournament with the winner heading to the championship game.
In the top of the 8th inning, LCU took the lead off a bases-loaded walk followed up by an RBI groundout. The Red River Rivalry would come alive with the Generals stepping to the plate in the bottom of the inning. LSUA’s utility player, Cameron Daigle, who started the game on the mound, hit a go-ahead three-run homerun to give the Generals a 6-5 lead. LSUA would add to that total later in the inning to seal a 9-5 victory.
That win would eventually propel the Generals to an RRAC Tournament Championship and a spot in the NAIA National Tournament, while LCU would fall in the elimination game ultimately ending their season at 32-17 overall.
Despite LSUA coming off a tournament championship, it is a toss-up heading into the 2023 season over what local school will finish with the better year. The Generals were picked second in the preseason poll just behind top 5 nationally ranked LSU Shreveport.
However, the Wildcats caught plenty of attention in their first season in the conference. After just one year, LCU received a first-place vote in the preseason rankings. Louisiana Christian was the only other school in the conference besides LSUS to get a first-place vote.
For the reigning conference champs, the Generals head back to the battlefield with plenty of guys returning from last year. On the mound, Seth Trahan looks to lead a rotation that also features sophomore Will Vice. LSUA trusted Vice last year in the RRAC Championship game, where he delivered helping lead a 13-2 win.
At the plate, LSUA will feature tough outs to get at the top of the lineup, including Jordan Ardoin and Bryson Broussard. The player to watch out for will be Cameron Daigle, the senior utility from Brusly High School. Daigle is one of the few players on any level in college baseball that contributes as a pitcher and fielder. In a game last season, Daigle played all nine positions in one game.
For LSUA’s rival across the river, Louisiana Christian will once again rely on the long ball. The Wildcats hit 50 home runs last season, 15 of them coming off the bat of Ju’Juan Franklin, who returns for his senior campaign. LCU scored just under nine runs a game a year ago largely thanks to Franklin’s contribution and the record-setting numbers put up by Keelyn Johnson.
Johnson had the second-highest batting average in the NAIA in 2022 at .481 to go along with 18 doubles and a .778 slugging percentage. Johnson’s impact will now be felt at LCU in another way as he was hired as an assistant coach for the season.
On the mound, it is a former local product leading the way for the Wildcats. Grace Christian alum Cortlynn Ramirez led the team last year with nine wins and 81 innings pitched.
Both teams open up the season Friday, Jan. 27 at home. LCU and LSUA will meet for the first time in 2023 for a three-game series starting on Feb. 24.
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