LAFAYETTE — Coach Michael Lotief said catcher Lexie Elkins was the anchor of the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team last year.
Looking at her numbers, it’s hard to argue.
She finished the season batting .388 with an .835 slugging percentage. Despite managing only one extra-base hit in her freshman year at Texas Tech, Elkins surged for 36 last season, including a team-leading 24 home runs — second-most in the nation.
She homered twice in the regional against Texas. She homered twice in the super regional against Arizona. And she homered twice in the Women’s College World Series.
Ever humble, Elkins gave all of the credit to her team.
“I couldn’t do anything without my team and coaches,” she said. “It is crazy and it can be a whirlwind at times, but they mean more to me than any award I could get.”
Elkins’ 2014 season has earned her much praise and many accolades, including being named a third-team All American and the Sun Belt Player of the Year. This year, she already has been tabbed the preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year and was named to USA Softball’s watch list for national Player of the Year honors.
“I am totally honored to be on that list along with so many great players,” Elkins said. “It’s preseason, though. It doesn’t matter. I am not letting that define me.”
Lotief said he believes the accolades will not change the type of player Elkins is. If anything, he said, she’ll just try harder.
“Her big deal is that she doesn’t want to disappoint anybody,” Lotief said. “If she doesn’t win, she feels like she has disappointed people. She’s not going to get a big head. She just doesn’t want to disappoint anyone.”
Lotief said despite a lack of statistics in her season at Texas Tech, he was intrigued by Elkins’ stature and athleticism. He said aside from Elkins’ physical attributes, her competitive personality is what made her an intriguing addition.
“You see her build and her athleticism and you think you got something with her,” Lotief said. “Then you get to know her. You learn her personality and you see how competitive she is. Those are the traits that make a great hitter.”
Elkins said, once she focused on the game and getting better, the process became simple.
“It’s all a mindset of being comfortable out there,” she said. “I put my heart and soul into everything I did and, once I did that, it all came together.”
Lotief said if the Cajuns get half the production they got from Elkins last year, they’ll have something special. He said the one thing he is hoping to see this season is Elkins taking a bigger leadership role and be a role model to the pitching staff and her younger teammates.
Elkins said she welcomes that responsibility and isn’t taking it lightly. She acknowledged that the leadership lost from last year in Shelbi Redfearn and Natalie Hernandez is something that will take some time to replace.
“From the outside looking in or even when you are on the same team, you almost take for granted watching someone lead,” Elkins said. “Last year, I was watching Shelbi and Nat do it, I thought ‘Oh, yeah. I can step up and do it.’
“It’s very, very tough, but I am working on it and we are working on it as a team, and I hope I can step into their shoes.”