What Will Raina O’Neal Provide UL Softball In 2019?
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will add outfielder Raina O'Neal, who has an exciting combination of speed and power, to their 2019 roster.
What can Louisiana fans expect next season from O'Neal, who sat out last season, after transferring from Texas Tech?
Well, the first thing you can expect is some much-needed power.
As a freshman with Texas Tech in 2017, O'Neal belted 12 home runs, which led the Red Raiders, and ranked second in the entire Big XII.
A left-handed hitter, O'Neal proved that she's a legitimate long ball threat, going deep on some of the better pitchers in the Big XII, and she'll likely be a big boost to the UL lineup.
In 2018, the Cajuns hit only 23 home runs as a team, and will be looking to improve on that greatly next season. It's possible O'Neal, along with Brittany Holland, who played in only three games before being injured, could match that number between the two of them alone.
Also, keep in mind; O'Neal drove home 32 runs at Texas Tech in 2017, a number that would have tied for the team lead for Louisiana this year.
Now, O'Neal, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining, hit a .243 for the Red Raiders, and struck out 53 times, so there's no question that she has to work on making more contact. That being said, the power she'll bring to the lineup will immediately make Louisiana better.
The other thing that O'Neal will bring to the Cajuns is speed. A native of Richmond, Texas, O'Neal ran track at Fort Bend Travis High School.
She stole 6 bases at Texas Tech in 2017, but is capable of many more.
I think a safe early prediction is for O'Neal to finish in double-digits in both homers and stolen bases next year.
Where is she going to play?
A 2017 Academic All-Big 12 Freshman Team selection, O'Neal started 50 games in left-field for Texas Tech, as well as three in right-field, but she certainly has the instincts, speed, and arm to play centerfield as well.
Having a versatile outfielder like O'Neal next year will help offset the losses of senior outfilders Kelli Martinez, Brittany Rodriguez, and Kalyn Watts.
No matter where Gerry Glasco decides to play O'Neal next season, she should be a plus-defender.
Unless something unforeseen happens. O'Neal should be a starting outfielder next season, hitting in the middle of the order.
O'Neal has a high-ceiling, and Cajun fans should enjoy watching her play next season.