UL softball outfielder Shellie Landry (22) hits during the game against Lamar at Lamson Park in Lafayette, La., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Photo by Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com

LAFAYETTE — Around the Louisiana-Lafayette batting cage, she is once again known as “Long Ball Landry.”

That nickname is perhaps appropriate now for UL-Lafayette outfielder Shellie Landry, whose early season performance was unlike last year, when she had 15 home runs and 16 RBIs.

In the past few weeks, Landry has rediscovered her batting groove and ascended from eighth to fifth in the middle of a Ragin’ Cajuns batting order loaded with power.

That’s in contrast to earlier in the season when Landry was batting at the bottom of the lineup, hitting .242 with no home runs and 12 RBIs.

Since the series against Oklahoma earlier last month, Landry has batted .319 with five doubles, 18 RBI and three homers.

“Shellie’s found her stroke,” UL-Lafayette coach Michael Lotief said.

Underlying Landry’s recent offensive breakout, however, was a season-long personal battle which perhaps affected her in a number of ways, Lotief said.

Landry’s personal life has been complicated by what she calls “family issues” — a situation she admits caused her to struggle as her attention was sometimes directed in places beyond the softball diamond.

“There’s a lot of personal history behind it,” Lotief said. “(Landry’s) mother has battled with cancer throughout the season. That’s hard on a college kid, especially a local kid who is so close to her family.”

Landry, a sophomore who attended St. Thomas More, said she was battling both mentally and with her mechanics in the box at the start of the season.

“I was hitting a lot off my front leg, and I was everywhere (with the batting swing) at the beginning. A lot of the problem was mental. I didn’t have the confidence I did at the start of last year,” she said.

“I was struggling with family issues. A lot was going on and my focus wasn’t completely on softball like it was last season.”

Ironically, softball and camaraderie with teammates also served as an emotional refuge, a place where Landry said she could find hours of solace.

“I made softball my escape from the everyday problems,” she said. “Instead of dreading it, softball was the one place I could go to obtain that.”

Lotief said he’s admired the way Landry has handled her situation.

“I thought as she struggled, she didn’t make excuses; she stayed mentally tough,” Lotief said. “Her hits lately seem to come at the biggest moments over the past couple of weekends.”

Landry said she felt her hitting form evolve two weeks ago during a Sun Belt Conference series at Troy, when she belted a grand slam to give the Cajuns a permanent lead in the first game of a doubleheader.

“That was the turning point,” she said. “I think I realized that all that I had done and worked on was back in place. Since then, I have changed my approach. I’m more confidence going into the box. If I go up and hit the ball and move the runners around now, that’s just as important as hitting the home run.”

Lotief said he’s enjoying seeing Landry develop into the confident hitter she’s always been.

“She’s making (the pitcher) pay,” he said. “To see her as confident as she is now and wanting to be in that situation is a good thing for us. Now she’s starting to show the power again, too.”