Battler Kara Gremillion makes quick impression as freshman _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Louisiana- Lafayette's Kara Gremillion connects for a base hit against Texas State during the first game of an NCAA softball doubleheader Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Lamson Park in Lafayette, La. The Cajuns won 7-0.

LAFAYETTE — When opposing pitchers have been searching for a breather at the bottom of the Louisiana-Lafayette softball lineup, they soon found themselves in the middle of another battle.

That has often been the case when freshman third baseman Kara Gremillion has stepped to the plate for the Cajuns this season. Her first long tussle with an All-American pitcher came on February 19, when Oregon’s Cheridan Hawkins was waiting in the pitcher’s circle for Gremillion. The Cajuns were trailing 6-3 and were down to their last out. Gremillion fouled off a few pitches on the way to a full count. Hawkins, a senior, prevailed eight pitches into the duel via a strikeout. But Gremillion had reinforced a belief that one Cajun senior already had formed.

“I knew as soon as Kara came into this program that she was going to be an awesome player,” first baseman Kelsey Vincent said. “There were times that I was watching her hit at the beginning of the year and I would joke around with Ccoach Mike (Lotief) and say, ‘she is hitting better than most of us were in our junior years of college.’

“She is a competitor and has been consistent all year. Especially for a freshman coming into a highly upperclassman lineup, I think she has bought into our system and competed in every way possible.”

That has translated to Gremillion hitting .304 and scoring 30 runs. By working counts, she has drawn 29 walks, which is second on the Cajuns to Vincent’s 30.

“(Gremillion) always finds a way on base or is hustling out of the box on everything,” Vincent said. “She doesn’t give (pitchers) that breath.”

Gremillion has managed to take a few breaths and take a moment to notice her surroundings.

The Oregon series was her first chance to experience the home atmosphere at Lamson Park. That was three games worth of Oregon pitching, base runners, cheers and big plays to file away as memories for the graduate of St. Amant who was named the 2015 Gatorade Louisiana Softball Player of the Year.

“That Oregon series was an experience like no other,” Gremillion said. “It was packed, the crowd was loud and it was actually my first weekend here. That was something I had never experienced playing that type of softball. It was amazing.”

Along the way, Gremillion hit her first career home run against Alcorn State in the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational. That was another fun moment when Gremillion got to do a role-reversal.

“Everybody was really excited because I had been excited when they hit home runs,” Gremillion said.

Now that the regular season has turned into the NCAA regional round, Gremillion’s game plan has all the same elements that it did when she was looking at Hawkins in the late-night of her first Lamson learning experience.

“I just try to do my job and get on base any way that I can,” Gremillion said. “I know that everybody else in the lineup is going to do the same thing. We are not focused on ourselves, we are focused on how we can produce runs.”