Kasuls, Breaux carrying steadiest bats for the Cajuns
Throughout most of the 2019 season so far, a majority of Ragin’ Cajuns hitters have struggled more often than not.
But two in particular — junior centerfielder Brennan Breaux, a transfer from LSU, and senior second baseman Hunter Kasuls — have been much more consistent than the rest.
Heading into a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against Appalachian State that opens Friday night on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field with juco-transfer Jacob Schultz on the mound for the 10-12 Cajuns in place of usual starter Gunner Leger, who is skipping a start to rest his inflamed throwing arm, Kasuls is hitting a team-high .316 with two doubles, two triples and two home runs and Breaux is batting .306.
Those two and shortstop Hayden Cantrelle, who is right at .300, are the only three Cajuns who have appeared in more than a dozen games and are hitting .300 or better.
Related:Cantrelle becomes fourth Ragin' Cajun to hit for the cycle
Also more often than not this season, inconsistency has been a trademark for UL in the box.
With the top half of UL’s order struggling at the plate, in fact, Wednesday night’s 7-3 loss at Tulane broke patterns for even the Cajuns’ best.
Leadoff man Cantrelle, who has been on a tear of late and hit for the cycle in Tuesday night’s 8-3 win over Northwestern State, went 1 for 5. And Handsome Monica, playing first base and hitting out of the 3 hole, was 0 for 5.
Even Breaux and Kasuls were off, with Breaux going 1 for 5 and Kasuls 0 for 4.
But at least those two have been steady throughout most of UL’s first 22 of 56 in the regular season.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Kasuls, who missed a few games earlier this season following surgery to repair his broken nose.
“I’ve had some bad luck in the past year, just hitting it right at the guy, so I guess it’s coming around this year,” the Texan added. “I’ve been getting some dinky hits this year, so I guess the game is paying me back.”
More:Cajuns unable to bounce back, fall to Tulane
In other words, balls hit hard but right to somebody late last season are starting to get through and drop in for Kasuls now.
“We call that ‘barreling up,’” UL coach Tony Robichaux said.
“You know, he lives with his barrel on the ball, man. That’s kind of what you (look for) when you go recruit. You try to see how many swings the guy takes in (batting practice), how many swings he takes in the game, and you don’t worry about his outs. You worry about how many times he can put the ball on the barrel — because the hitters than can barrel stuff up, they’re your better hitters.
“And, man, he just lives with the ball on his barrel … and he gives us a lot of presence in that order,” Robichaux added, “and he takes away a lot of right-handed sliders the nights he’s in there for us out of the left side.”
For Breaux, spectacular plays in center have almost become commonplace this season.
His work at the plate hasn’t always been as flashy — mostly singles, two doubles, a couple homers and a team high-tying 14 RBI in 85 at-bats — but it has been workman-like.
“No doubt, he’s given us a lot,” UL coach Tony Robichaux said recently.
“He’s given us some power. He’s driving the baseball. He’s giving us some slug. He’s giving us some on-base percentage. He gives us a great defender in the outfield.”
More:UL's Robichaux reveals real reason Leger missed start
Even though it sure seems like it, Breaux insists he doesn’t feed offensively off his web gems.
“Plays on defense, you take them as they come,” the St. Thomas More High product said. “Once that play’s over, it’s over, and you flip the switch when you’ve got to get in the box and you try to beat the pitcher on the mound.
“So I would say it helps the team more than it does (you) individually. … You can get a little momentum by making a good play in the outfield for your team, get the crowd involved.”
Whatever it takes to get more of UL’s bats going, Robichaux would welcome it with open arms.
The same goes for getting more bats to be as consistent as Breaux’s and Kasuls’ have been, the Tulane loss notwithstanding.
The Cajuns coach firmly believes hitting is contagious, and he suggested as much after Cantrelle’s cycle night.
“When one guy gets going,” Robichaux said then, “other guys start to come along and follow.”
Kasuls, meanwhile, shed some light earlier this week on what he thinks is the key to consistency.
It’s all about, go figure, consistency.
“You’ve just got to stay calm and be yourself … every day,” he said. “Show up, and be the same player, and do what you’ve got to do to be your best.”
Related:UL second baseman Kasuls has broken nose repaired
RAGIN' CAJUNS BASEBALL
UL (10-12, 2-1 in the Sun Belt) vs. APPALACHIAN STATE (8-11, 1-2)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park
RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker (play-by-play) and Brad Topham (color)
ONLINE: ESPN+ Friday night only with Dan McDonald (play-by-play) and Gerald Broussard (color), RaginCajuns.com with Dan McDonald on Saturday and Sunday
UL LEADERS: 2B Hunter Kasuls, .316, 2 triples; CF Brennan Breaux, .306, 14 RBI; SS Hayden Cantrelle .300, 5 doubles, 5 HR; 1B/C Handsome Monica, 5 HR, 14 RBI; RF Orynn Veillon, 5 HR
UL PITCHERS: Sophomore RHP Jacob Schultz (0-0, 1.16 ERA) on Friday night, TBA Saturday and Sunday
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