The train has just kept on roaring down the tracks in Lafayette, Louisiana.
The University of Louisiana softball program has been one of the top programs in all of college softball for the last three decades.
Not just one of the top mid-major programs. One of the top programs, period.
Gerry Glasco is just the fourth head coach in the program’s history, taking over in late 2017. His first three seasons in Lafayette have done nothing to change the perception of the program. In 2018, the Ragin’ Cajuns won 41 games. In 2019, they won 52 contests and won the Sun Belt championship. Both seasons, they qualified for the NCAA Regionals.
After college, Donny Dreher had traveled around playing modified fastpitch to engage his competitive spirit and stay active. Little did he know that when he retired to save the wear and tear on his body, that years later he would find his way back around to the game of softball and the Finesse Fastpitch organization.
At the request from a friend to come evaluate a player, he visited a local high school to check out the player. This is where he met Tommie Walker and Denny Schlimgen on this day in 1992.
“I got hooked on it,” said Dreher. “I liked what they were doing.”
When Shawn Quarles, and his brother Joey, were getting into the travel softball world with their daughters, they learned quickly that it was a lot different from their experience in recreational softball.
As the needs grew with the players and their development, they moved forward around 2007 to start a small softball organization called the Cerritos Franchise.
As a top recruit in the class of 2023, Alexa (Lex) Rosales has earned the respect of those in the Athletics Mercado softball organization from her hard work ethic. In the fall, she was moved to the Athletics Mercado – Greg/Tidd team to continue to work on her development.
“I would put Lex’s work ethic up against any player in the nation,” said Brian Tidd, coach for the Athletics Mercado – Greg/Tidd team. “Lex has played at the highest level throughout her career with our Academy and is a true leader that has set the highest standard of how we play this game.”
How many high school student-athletes can say they have been fortunate enough to play with a top recruit in multiple sports at the same time?
The answer is likely a small number, but Katie Flannery is one of those players. On the softball field, she has played with Annabelle Widra, a dynamic two-way player who will soon suit up for the University of Michigan. On the hardwood, Flannery played with and looked up to Sarah Ashlee Barker, one of the best basketball players in the Southeast who is now at the University of Georgia.
When J.J. Jimenez was watching the PGF Championship on TV with his daughter and the rest of the family, he told her one day you will play in that championship game. Even though she was still young in her softball career, the idea he wanted to instill was to dream big.
“I was her hitting coach. I was her fielding coach,” said Jimenez. “I would do all her skill videos.”
Even though they were just above the Mexican border, but below the softball hotspot in the Orange County and San Diego area, they were starting to put teams together with those girls from the area that were interested in improving their softball skills.
The University of Kentucky softball program is no longer a plucky underdog, capable of jumping up and surprising its opponents occasionally.
No, the Wildcats have lost that distinction. They advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in 2014, have established themselves as a perennial Super Regional team and have finished second in the ridiculously competitive Southeastern Conference twice in the last four completed seasons.