Lotief’s Ragin’ Cajuns Ramping Up For Regionals [VIDEO]
It's the final party at Lamson Park this weekend, Cajun Nation. Regionals are starting all around the country, and the Ragin' Cajuns are inviting some heavy hitters into town.
Head Coach Michael Lotief always tries to put blinders on his team, in terms of watching their opponent. That being said, Texas A&M and the Texas Longhorns bring a certain sizzle factor to Lamson Park. Not to mention, his players are very familiar with the Lone Star State.
"Half of those girls are from Texas," Lotief joked about his roster.
Jokes aside, there are 13 Cajun players from the state of Texas, including big names like pitchers Kylee Jo Trahan and Macey Smith, hitters Kelsey Vincent and Kelli Martinez, and of course, Lexie Elkins. They played with or against the members of the Aggies and Longhorns in high school, and they're probably still friends with a few of their foes for this weekend.
The two teams from the state of Texas are the major concern, but the Ragin' Cajuns' journey through the postseason starts with Boston University.
This is the fifth tournament appearance in eight years for the Terriers, but they had to win the Patriot League Tournament to get to Lafayette. They're 28-22 overall this season, with an 11-6 record in conference play, but Lotief isn't concerning himself with any of the numbers. He knows when his team plays with a singular focus, nobody can touch them.
"The next three days is all about us," Lotief said. "My focus is not on Boston right now, our focus is on UL."
His focus is also on the fan base. He challenged Cajun Nation to help the team "impose their will" on the opponent, defending their title as one of the most passionate fan bases in collegiate softball. He wants them to bring a home field advantage, but he probably wouldn't mind if people stopped worrying about the seeding.
Louisiana was handed a #14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which is a number members of the fan base disagreed with. What they should focus on is that the Ragin' Cajuns are one of nine programs (Alabama, Arizona, Florida State, Louisiana, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, Washington) to make the tournament every year since the year 2000. They only missed the tournament once in the past 27 years, which is why Lotief isn't crying about a lack of respect.
All Lotief wants his team to do is show everybody what they can do, and let the numbers fall to the wayside.
“Somebody else from the outside puts a number on us, or tries to put a label on us, or tries to say this is who we are. We don’t have to accept it. It’s their opinion of who we are," Lotief responded to a question about the Cajuns' regional pairing and seeding. "We’re in the field and we get to play now. That’s the fun thing about our sport. It’s not a vote. It’s not somebody picking somebody else. You get to lock it up and let’s go.”
It's time to show and prove for the Cajuns, and they get to do it in front of their home crowd one last time this season.
If Louisiana wants to advance to the super regional round, they're going to need to lock things down in the circle. Alex Stewart will be called upon to carry a heavy load, but Macey Smith and the rest of the staff will have to contribute if the Cajuns find themselves in a crunch.
With such an explosive lineup, Lotief understands people will be wrapped up with the bats. He's more worried about everything else.
“The key this weekend is going to be in the circle. It’s going to come down to how we handle ourselves in the pitching circle," Lotief said. He added, "When you get to championship softball, everybody is going to think about home runs and scoring and offense and all that stuff, but it’s going to come down to pitching and defense, and base running. Got to run the bases right.”
If the pitchers handle their business, the offense should take care of the rest with no issue.
Speaking of issues and pitching, Lotief made sure to address the barrage of illegal pitches called against Stewart in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. He was glad it happened sooner rather than later.
"If we would have been in the middle of this tournament, and all that’s going on, we’re going home," Lotief pointed out. "That would be the wrong time to be dealing with that, so I think it’s a blessing in disguise that it came up."
Hopefully, Lotief and the rest of the coaching staff went over all the footage from the Tournament with Stewart. Whatever the problem was, they can't have it happening over and over again in the regional.
It's the final week at home in Lamson Park, fans. Soak it all in while you still can.
If you have the time, sit down and let Coach Lotief walk you through all the scenarios leading into the regional round. He's always worth the listen.