LAFAYETTE — UL-Lafayette coach Michael Lotief said the story of the Ragin’ Cajuns 18-0 blowout win over UT-Arlington on Friday night wasn’t the hits, the home runs or the pitching.
The Cajuns did get six home runs — three from Kelsey Vincent, two from Lexie Elkins and one from Shellie Landry — among 16 hits. And Cajuns pitching combined for a shutout, led by Jordan Wallace, who pitched three innings, struck out six and picked up her eighth win.
Lotief said he was pleased to see the offense explode, but the story Friday, to him, was the team buying in — from top to bottom — to what the coaches are teaching.
“In the outside, it can be measured by a singular superstar,” Lotief said. “Within these (clubhouse) doors, it has to be collective. We focus on who is the weakest link and that’s the one that has to get it done in crunch time. That is the mindset we are trying to develop. It happened tonight.”
The Cajuns got 16 hits — all but one starter got on the board. Vincent, who was 3-for-3 with three home runs, kept her hot streak up from last weekend’s series. Vincent said they focused on what the Mavericks pitching was going to show them, and the preparation paid off.
“I just tried to hit the ball up the middle every time,” Vincent said. “We have been focusing on getting team offense, and we are all going to contribute. We want to focus on passing the bat. Whenever we go into a regional, we’ll know how to play in that mindset.”
Vincent said she has had the same plate approach all season but is trusting her eye a little more now. Lotief said Vincent is a smart hitter and understands what pitchers are going to throw to her.
“Her mechanics have been hot and cold (this season), but the last two or three weekends you could see her coming,” Lotief said. “Now — that thing called ‘confidence’ — when you put that in your back pocket, it puts you over the edge. She’s starting to believe in herself.”
Up 11-0 after three innings, Lotief pulled Wallace and put in freshman Kylee Jo Trahan. Trahan pitched 1.1 innings before Alex Stewart came in to get the final two outs.
Lotief said it was important to not only get Wallace out of the game, but to get the two young pitchers a taste of game experience.
“This is a three-game series, and Jordan has to be fresh and ready to go (Saturday),” Lotief said. “We ran out of pitching last Sunday against South Al. She wasn’t sharp.
“We want to keep getting (Trahan and Stewart) out there and feel what that feels like. Keep letting them experience it. Next year will be here sooner than we all care for it to be.”
Lotief said the 18-0 result Friday means nothing Saturday, as the Cajuns prepare for a doubleheader with UT-Arlington.
“The mindset of young kids becomes, ‘Oh, we won 18-0. We got that.’ No you don’t ‘got that.’ Get ready for 1-0. You aren’t playing an opponent or a team you just beat. This is a tough game to play. This is about to be a dogfight. Hopefully these kids are mature enough to realize that.”