The scouting report on No. 4 Alabama is finished, Louisiana-Lafayette softball coach Michael Lotief said, and it stated the obvious: The Crimson Tide are good.
Cold and freezing weather postponed a Friday matchup between the No. 5 Ragin’ Cajuns (14-0) and Crimson Tide (13-3) in Tuscaloosa. Instead, the Cajuns are set for a doubleheader Saturday and a third game Sunday, their first road tests of the season.
“I’m glad we took Friday out of the mix because of the weather,” Lotief said. “That makes Saturday an important day. We’re playing a doubleheader in a very tough environment against a very seasoned and good team. That is why you do all that you do, to have these kinds of opportunities.”
Lotief said he is “very excited” about having Alabama back on the schedule this season and said it is hopefully a relationship that will continue. The Crimson Tide are scheduled to pay a return trip to Lamson Park in 2017.
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy and assistant Alyson Habetz have heavy ties to the Cajuns program. Murphy’s coaching career began as a UL-Lafayette assistant coach in 1990 while Habetz was a two-sport star for the Cajuns in softball and basketball from 1991-95.
“We’re very familiar with Pat and Alyson,” Lotief said. “These are two good programs trying to do the same things. ... We’re going to learn from it, no matter what happens.”
Lotief said having such a tough test this early in the season is a fun opportunity. He said the lack of consequences in the event of failure will allow him to showcase his aggressive style.
“I will be very aggressive,” he said. “Why not? In a super regional, we’ll be aggressive, too. That has always been our personality. We want to be as aggressive as we can be. (Alabama is) as well.
“You play this in a regional or super (regional), your season is over if you’re the loser. This is just playing, going after each other and having fun. This is seeing where you’re good and where you need to get better against a very good team.”
Despite this being the first road trip of the season, Lotief pointed out that the Cajuns did get a road test in the fall against Florida State. He called it a “trial run” and admitted it’ll be nothing like what is in store for them when they face the Tide.
“The venue matters,” Lotief said. “This is one of the toughest environments in college softball to play. They’re on top of you, cheering and yelling, just like our fans. Alabama is good. They have a good softball team. So do we. It is going to be fun.”