Georgia softball transfers Ciara Bryan, Justice Milz now in lineup for UL Ragin' Cajuns

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

When Ragin’ Cajuns softball coach Gerry Glasco learned Georgia outfielder Ciara Bryan and infielder Justice Milz were in the NCAA transfer portal, he wasn’t sure what to do.

Glasco, a former Bulldogs assistant coach, said he considered both “special” players.

But he also knew UL was loaded with returnees from a team that had a No. 1 national RPI ranking when COVID-19 cut the season short.

A debate ensued.

“Our discussion in the coach’s room was ‘Do we need to add any more talent? Does that make us better or does that hurt us?’” Glasco said. “Because, you know, we worry about the clubhouse chemistry.

“We were discussing whether we really needed them.”

As it turns out, the Cajuns did.

When starting center fielder Raina O’Neal broke her wrist six games into the season, Bryan took over.

She has been steady ever since for No. 14 UL (38-9, 19-2 Sun Belt), leading the the team in batting average (.436),  runs (48) and stolen bases (27) heading into a three-game series to end the regular season against UL Monroe starting Thursday (6 p.m., KPEL 1420 AM) at Lamson Park.

“Ciara Bryan continues to find a way to get on base,” Glasco said Monday. “She doesn’t have to hit the ball hard; she’ll beat it out with her speed.”

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And a season-ending knee injury to starting first baseman Taylor Roman, who suffered a torn ACL in February, gave Milz her opportunity. 

Milz is hitting .296 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.

Starting shortstop Alissa Dalton recently underwent hand surgery and is out of the lineup. UL doesn't have a Georgia transfer available for the two-time preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.

Ciara Bryan isn't 'picky' where to play

Before O’Neal got hurt, Bryan was starting in right.

But Bryan, who hit a career .330 in 172 games over three SEC seasons, didn’t care where was playing or where she was hitting – just so long as she was playing somewhere.

Ragin' Cajuns outfielder Ciara Bryan, a transfer from Georgia, flashes a smile after homering during a Feb. 23 win over Eastern Illinois at Lamson Park.

“Honestly I’m comfortable wherever they put me, wherever they need me,” she said. “I’m not picky.

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“When you’re in the lineup, one through nine, wherever it is, you have a job, and that’s to be there for your teammates, be a good teammate. It doesn’t matter if you’re one or nine.

“So when I know I’m in the lineup,” added Bryan, who started mostly in center and a few games in right in 2020 at Georgia, “I’m giving my all every single day.”

A longstanding relationship

That is precisely why Glasco, who was an assistant at Georgia from 2009-14 and at Texas A&M from 2015-17, was willing to take a chance when Bryan and Milz went into the portal.

It helped that he really did know both well.

“Glasco actually recruited me when I was, like, 12, 13 (years old), when he was coaching at Georgia,” said Bryan, who went 4 for 12 with three steals in a three-game sweep at Coastal Carolina last weekend.

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“It feels really good to be able to be here, especially with Justice (Milz), because he also recruited Justice when were (that age).”

Having a longstanding relationship with the coach, however, is one thing. Quickly bonding with new teammates, most of whom already were quite tight, is another.

Bryan admittedly was equally concerned about how she and Milz would fit in with the Cajuns, especially since their roster seemed so set when the two arrived.

“Every practice, every game, we’re growing together, we’re learning about each other more,” she said at the time, “and I think that’s what’s going to help us in the end of the season, where it doesn’t feel fake or forced, where it actually feels like we’ve been here for four years.”

By May, those February words seem particularly prophetic.

Predictively on point as well was Glasco’s decision to ultimately add the two Georgia transfers, even if the idea of doing so prompted great debate.

“Now, with all these injuries,” Glasco said, “it’s just ‘Thank goodness they’re here.’ ”