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.
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.
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.
For many years now, Indiana Magic Gold has been one of the top fastpitch softball club organizations in the Midwest.
But the people involved in the program are not content with that distinction. They are continuing to pursue improvements to keep moving the organization into the upper echelon of the best of the best, nationwide.
The state of Tennessee was a bit of a culture shock for Karen Weekly. Having grown up in the state of Washington and playing and coaching at Pacific Lutheran University, the move east was a bit of an adjustment.
Watching Kenleigh Cahalan play, it might seem as if she is a few years older than she actually is.
That’s intentional, because she tries to make it look that way.
“I just treat everything like I am one of the older ones and do my best,” she said. As an eighth-grader, Cahalan was pulled up to her high school’s varsity team at Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.). Early on that year, she established herself as the team’s primary third baseman and took a backseat to none in terms of production.
That’s as great a testament as any as to what head coach Mike Candrea has created in Tucson over the last 35 years. The bar has been set so high that seasons ending in the Super Regionals from 2014-18 had the program still yearning to take the next step and return to the Women’s College World Series despite seasons that would seem like a mere pipe dream for the majority of programs across the nation.