UL-Lafayette softball pitcher Macey Smith says she was prepared for expanded role at Sun Belt tournament _lowres

Advocate photo by Buddy Delahoussaye-- Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher Macey Smith pitches in NCAA regional tournament action Friday at Lamson Park.

LAFAYETTE — As the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team goes on the road to face Oklahoma on Thursday and Friday in a best-of-three super regional, it’s all hands on deck. But that’s OK because they’re prepared, especially junior right-hander Macey Smith.

Smith’s role has gradually transformed as the season progressed, and while it may have been surprising for fans when she was thrust into the spotlight during the Sun Belt Conference tournament, coach Cajuns coach Mike Lotief’s decision to call upon her was not shocking to Smith.

“We always say embrace the role that you have and compete to the highest level of that role.” Smith said.

Smith has certainly done that, giving up just six earned runs in 31.2 innings including throwing a no-hitter against Texas State to clinch the Sun Belt tournament championship.

“I feel like it’s just getting myself ready for any situation I could be in,” Smith said. “No matter if I’m getting everyone in the dugout competing or I’m competing on the field myself.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns turned to Smith as a complement to Alex Stewart after Kylee Jo Trahan went down with an injury. Smith said her recent playing time and exposure to high pressure settings could play a major role in the super regional.

“It was awesome to be out there (regional) with the girls,” Smith said. It was good to have that experience, and I think it will help.”

No caffeine needed

Despite a late start time of 8 p.m. Thursday and the potential of playing the if-necessary game at 9 p.m. or later on Friday, Smith and her teammates aren’t bothered.

“We’re just going to go out play our game and rely on each other. We’re not worried about the start,” Smith said.

Game 1 is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2. Game 2 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, also on ESPN 2. The if-necessary game would follow Friday’s Game 2 but would be broadcast on ESPNU.

Bus, plane rides

There won’t be any trains, but the Ragin’ Cajuns will travel by both air and bus to reach Norman, Oklahoma. The starters, along with the equipment (and there’s a lot of it), will travel by plane, while the rest of the roster and support staff will bus to the super regional site. Both parties are slated to depart Lafayette early Wednesday morning as the team will practice Wednesday at the OU Softball Complex. Practice is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Extended stay

With Louisiana-Lafayette scheduled to play Thursday-Friday and Norman being roughly 20 miles from Oklahoma City, home of the Women’s College World Series, the Ragin’ Cajuns are preparing to stay in Oklahoma should they beat the Sooners and advance to the WCWS. World Series festivities start Monday despite games not beginning until Thursday; meaning it would make no sense for the team to return back to Lafayette.

Party time

Ragin’ Cajun fans are invited to attend the university’s official watch party on Thursday and Friday at Pete’s on Johnston Street. The Louisiana-Lafayette athletic department will announce further details in a news release Wednesday.