Ragin’ Cajuns softball team begins long road trip with Appalachian State _lowres

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO - University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns' celebrate Kelsey Vincent's(#28) three-run homer against the Baylor Bears in the fourth inning in Lafayette Sat., April 11, 2015.

For the remainder of the regular season, the UL-Lafayette softball team is a road show.

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ home schedule is complete. They visit hapless Appalachian State this weekend, and Cajuns associate head coach T.J. Hubbard has to be concerned the team will looking past the Sun Belt Conference’s bottom dwellers.

The Mountaineers come in with just one conference victory and the Cajuns have a huge series next weekend at No. 5 Oregon. Hubbard may call on a past experience against Texas State to add some motivation.

The Cajuns went into the Texas State series as heavy favorites and the Bobcats made them pay for a lack of focus with a 14-13 roller-coaster loss that saw pitchers Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton struggle.

Wallace and Hamilton both took responsibility for their struggles that weekend and both have bounced back strong. That series also allowed another pitcher, sophomore Alex Stewart, to emerge, adding another arm to the Cajuns’ arsenal.

It’s uncertain who will start against Appalachian State, but any of the three should be effective. Wallace was stellar last week against Baylor, pitching a complete game and striking out eight. Hamilton and Stewart combined for five strikeouts and aside from Hamilton giving up a two-run home run, the duo was pretty stingy.

Offensively, this series could provide fireworks. Appalachian State is coming off a doubleheader against Radford on Thursday in which the Mountaineers scored 37 runs — the most in program history for a doubleheader. Granted, the Cajuns will bring in far better pitching than what the Mountaineers saw Thursday.

The Cajuns offensively are clicking on all cylinders — especially junior catcher Lexie Elkins.

Elkins is batting .417 on the season, and her 20 home runs are second-most in the country. Elkins has homered in six of the past eight games.

With three weeks left in the regular season, plus a postseason run, Elkins might challenge the Cajuns’ single-season record 30 home runs hit by Danyele Gomez in 2006. Through 37 games in 2006, Gomez had hit 19 home runs.

The Cajuns are just 5-4 away from Lamson Park this season, but they’ll have added motivation for this one. Head coach Michael Lotief — who will not make the trip to Boone, North Carolina, with the team — underwent surgery Friday that will hopefully mend his lingering throat issue, which has kept him out since March 28.

The Cajuns will wear “Fight Like Mike” shirts and wrist bands in support of their head coach. As Lotief said in a news conference Monday, the support he has received thus far has been overwhelming.

“I feel it,” Lotief said. “But I’ve been feeling it for 50 years. Where do the fans do what they do? Only here. The Cajun people know how to love. They know how to party. They’re hard workers. But their capacity for love is crazy good. That is why people love it here, and I don’t take it for granted.”