LAFAYETTE — Michael Lotief’s fun at the old ballpark included some exciting plays, fist pumps and a few choice words.
When the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team posted a pair of wins against Baylor on Saturday, their head coach was thrilled to be back with his squad — at least in an unofficial capacity. He watched the senior weekend games from the dugout, but associate head coach T.J. Hubbard was still running the show.
“I screamed — they told me not to — I pumped my fist, I cussed a couple of times,” Lotief said Monday. “I had fun.”
The games were the on-field portion of a stretch that began Lotief’s return to the squad as he continues to receive treatment for a combination of throat and respiratory ailments.
“It was good to be with my team,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let them drive a van up and put me out there just for senior weekend. I love those kids. (Coaching) is what we do. It is our passion, our profession, and it’s a privilege and honor to do it.”
Although the Cajuns rolled to a 12-2 win in the second contest of Saturday’s doubleheader, Lotief took many mental notes on the first game, a 3-1 win.
“If I use anything as a measuring point, it’s Game 1,” he said. “Their No. 1 (pitcher) Heather Stearns — that is what sticks out. I saw her expose some really good hitters. We have to fight. In the postseason, everybody has a No. 1. You are never facing a No. 2.”
This season, Lotief has been hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia in his lungs, and he has an esophageal issue that will require surgery. The pneumonia has cleared up, but the esophagus will not be fixed until he has surgery.
Lotief’s timetable for returning to the team full-time will depend on the surgery and potential recovery time. In the meantime, he enjoyed seeing his players take on Baylor.
There also were some memorable moments before anybody even stepped to the plate at Lamson Park.
“(Cajuns baseball coach Tony Robichaux) hears through the grapevine that I’m at the indoor (facility). So he comes to see me ... on the day of a game when his team is getting ready to play Jackson State,” Lotief said. “I have felt the love here for 50 years (locally). This is who the community is. I am a blessed man.”