LAFAYETTE — Mental study and physical recovery were the two orders of business for the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team Monday.
Players used whatever means necessary to get around the athletic complex in the aftermath of Sunday’s 9-8, nine-inning Lafayette regional championship clincher over Texas A&M. That meant moving around on their knees or jokingly rolling on the grass at a good pace on the way to the next commitment. Teammates were quick to provide verbal support that ranged from “You can do it!” to “You’re almost there!”
Coach Mike Lotief said it all comes with the territory.
“The celebration is over,” he said. “In our game, we don’t get long to celebrate, or we don’t get long to pout about a bad loss. We have to keep our minds free. We have to watch film, and we have to look at our mistakes and find a way to get better.”
The physical components of the regional win and moving forward to visiting No. 3 national seed Oklahoma in this week’s super regional is another group effort.
“At the end of the conversation, it’s all of us,” Lotief said. “That’s what this program is. It takes all of us to be successful, and one person can’t shoulder all of us.”
The silver lining
As the Ragin’ Cajuns navigated the back-and-forth battle with Texas A&M on Sunday, pitcher Alex Stewart had to hold off an Aggies attack that managed a pair of homers and 13 hits in defeat.
“When we got the lead, Alex was just trying to hang on,” Lotief said.
There was also the moment when Stewart saw the Aggies take an 8-6 advantage.
“The best thing that happened to her was A&M taking the lead,” Lotief said. “I think she became competitive again. I think that’s something she will learn from.
“Letting your mind get too far ahead of itself is not a good thing. You can’t get too enamored with that scoreboard — or at least too far ahead of yourself. Alex is a warrior, and her teammates had her back.”
When catcher Lexie Elkins homered Sunday, her journey around the bases seemed to feature a bigger leap at home plate than usual.
Her emotion came to the surface after recovering from a thumb injury, and it was a memorable visual from the dugout.
“When you come back from an injury, there is that seed of doubt maybe in the back of your head,” Lotief said. “For her to do it in front of the fans and to hear that roar again — to try so hard and want it so bad and to come through — that’s good for Lexie. That was a big home run. It got the crowd into it.”