LAFAYETTE — Lexie Elkins has made some strides toward the plate, but the possibility of her getting back behind the plate is a more delicate matter.
As the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team went through Monday practice before they head to Mobile, Alabama, for the Sun Belt Conference tournament, coach Mike Lotief weighed his options for the Cajuns’ All-America catcher as she resumes limited activity.
“We will get Lexie on the field (Monday and Tuesday), and the question is how we ease her back into action,” Lotief said. “She will want to jump right back into it. I see her possibly playing another position (besides catcher). I’m worried about that thumb, and I’m worried about her receiving the ball. It’s going to be a tough call, but it’s good to have her back.
“She is not Superwoman. There are major league players that have to rehab in the minors for a few weeks. We don’t have three or four weeks, so we need to temper expectations. The other kids on the team understand that.”
The discussion of Elkins’ position plan is part of a general team blueprint that Lotief and the Cajuns staff have drawn up going into the conference tournament. There is the desire to win the tournament, but that goal will not be chased “at all costs,” Lotief said. “We want to come out of that conference tournament healthy. We are a confident team whether we win it or not.”
New kids on the block
Freshman third baseman Kara Gremillion raised her average to .312 thanks to a 5-for-8 weekend in the Cajuns’ series sweep against UL-Monroe. Gremillion also has limited her error total at the hot corner to three with a .977 fielding percentage.
“Kara ... the defense she has played and her at-bats have been rock solid,” Lotief said.
“DJ Sanders is having a phenomenal year. I can’t ask any more from the younger kids than what they have done. They are not in mop-up roles. They are in the heart of the lineup.”
Moms being motivators
As many of the Cajuns players and their moms headed out of Lamson Park at the end of the the ULM series, discussions about dinner plans between mothers and daughters made Lotief reflect on the role those ladies play in the Cajuns having 40 wins (40-7).
“A lot of the fire in those young women comes from their mothers,” Lotief said. “They are strong women who are not scared to push their kids to be competitive. That was fun being around that environment and being around women that want to be great. They are not scared of standing on the big stage and saying, ‘Let’s go for it.’”