East Ascension’s Cayden Tullier Ready to Shine in Debut with U-18 U.S. National Softball Team

by: William Weathers // GeauxPreps.com Contributor

Try as they may, Cayden Tullier’s parents couldn’t budge her to try softball. Then their little girl took matters into her own hands at 11-years-old.

“I never wanted to play,” said Tullier, a two-time Class 5A All-State third baseman at East Ascension High. “I thought it was too hot, and then one day I decided to pick up a softball.”

Tullier was first part of a recreation team based out of Butch Gore Park in Gonzales, a league of leisure that further stoked her passion for the sport that’s led the rising 16-year-old junior’s selection to the Team USA’s U18 national softball team.

The U18 national team recently convened in Oklahoma City, Okla. for a week’s worth of competition. There were practices against the U.S. national team, which includes professional players, followed by a pair of exhibition games at OGE Energy Field at Devon Park – the site of the Women’s College World Series.

Tullier played third base for two innings in the first game of the exhibition series, and shared time in both left field and third base for seven innings in the second game, driving in a run with a single.

“That prepared the team and us as individuals,” Tullier said. “We’re from all over the country and don’t know each other. We had never played with each other before. It was more of coming together as a unit instead of individuals and learning how to play together.”

Tullier put herself in contention for a roster spot with a successful showing at a Region 4 (Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama) tryout in May of 2023 in Hattiesburg, Miss. That earned her an invitation to a national selection event in Vero Beach, Fla. where she batted .800 with a pair of doubles and triples.

“We did drill work, focused on the basics,” Tullier said. “They tested our (bat) exit velo(city), speed, footwork and glove work. I had one of the best pop times (the reaction time a pitch hits the catcher’s mitt, to the time the intended infielder receives the throw) catching wise. I think I played some of my best softball that week.”

USA Softball thought enough of Tullier’s ability and made her part of its 16-member U18 team coached by Kyla Holas, a former three-time All-American pitcher at UL-Lafayette under head coach Yvette Girouard. The organization emailed her parents, who kept things under wraps until a surprise visit to East Ascension’s softball field in January, to let her know of the honor in front of her teammates.

“When I found out I was emotional and I’m not a very emotional person,” Tullier said. “It was very exciting. I wasn’t doubting that I would make it. I knew I made it just by the way I performed there, but at the same time, I was 16, and didn’t think they would pick a 16-year-old over a Power 5 (Conference) college commit.

“It just proves that even though you’re younger, and I’m smaller than half of these kids on the team,” Tullier said. “I’m not the typical softball build you could say. Finding that out proves that anybody can do it as long as you have a strong work ethic, and you really want it. You’re capable of anything.”

Tullier may not fit the prototypical makeup of a player with Olympic dreams, but she more than compensates for a 5-foot-4 frame with a fierce work ethic in the weight room, on the practice field and in the batting cages.

Her game, which included travel ball stints with the Lady Hawks and currently Walker-based Louisiana Blazer Elite for the past six years, has accelerated under the tutelage of former St. Amant and UL-Lafayette shortstop Alana Addison and former LSU baseball player David Miller, whom she has trained with over the past four years at Tiger Cages in Gonzales.

“She made sure I had my bottom half (of body) correct and that’s why my bottom half is so strong through my swing,” said Tullier, who can play every infield and outfield position and catch. “David helped me figure out my swing, tweaked everything and I literally hit every day of my life.”

Tullier made her second consecutive appearance on the All-District 5-5A, All-Metro and Class 5A All-State first team this season, helping East Ascension (18-13) to the state non-select quarterfinals. She led the Spartans with a .506 batting average, scored 63 runs with five doubles, four triples and was tied for 14th nationally with 18 homers to go along with 48 RBIs.

“I work out and I’m kind of strong,” Tullier said. “I train my hands. Bat speed gives you home runs. You can be the smallest person, but if you have the fastest hands swinging the bat, the ball will go over the fence.”

Tullier will play with the Louisiana Blazers Elite travel ball team, a team she credits for her development, until departing for Dallas on Aug. 20 to begin training for the World Cup which begins on Aug. 28.

“I’m super excited to play against different countries,” Tullier said. “They’re different athletes and they’re going to play differently.”

The top-ranked U.S. team is part of the Group C event which includes No. 10 Australia, No. 5 Canada, No. 21 Ireland, No. 7 Mexico and No. 14 Philippines.

“I made all-stars on my first team and after that, I completely fell in love with the game,” said Tullier, who said she’s participated in 38 college camps across the country the past three years. “I decided I wanted to go somewhere with this.”