Ragin’ Cajuns relish test against Alabama, softball coach Michael Lotief says _lowres

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO - University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns' Leandra Maly is safe at third bases as the Iowa Hawkeyes' Sarah Kurtz waits for a throw in the third inning Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.

LAFAYETTE — After his team swept its past two conference series, and as they prepare for an upcoming series against Troy this weekend, Louisiana-Lafayette softball coach Michael Lotief said this is the part of the season where he begins to lose track.

“We are at about the halfway mark of our season,” Lotief said. “I honestly can’t tell you what happened in the (Texas-Arlington) series. I have a hard time telling you what happened in the (Georgia Southern), series and I don’t know what’s coming up. Right now, I just put my nose down and grind.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns (23-3, 8-1) had no trouble with UT-Arlington and Georgia Southern, winning four of the six games by run rule. The Cajuns played those six games in five days, but finished 6-0 and saw the offense clicking and the pitching keeping the opposition in check.

“People ask if it’s hard or if I’m tired,” Lotief said. “Better not be. Nose down. Grind. You don’t worry about all the other details. The game is going to tell us when to pick our head up and see where we are. Now is not that time.”

Senior Leandra Maly, who has taken over the designated player spot in the lineup, leads the Cajuns with a .488 batting average. She said the players’ approach to every series is to treat it like a super regional.

“We have to come out of that series winning, or we’re going home,” Maly said. “We are preparing ourselves every single game for the World Series so that when we get there, we’ve done it a million times.”

A return trip to the Women’s College World Series is the Cajuns’ goal, Maly said. It’s a goal the team set forward from the first day of fall practice. Maly said the Cajuns not only want to get there, but want to leave Oklahoma City with a national championship.

“We started out saying we are going to win the World Series,” Maly said. “We wanted to believe in ourselves from the beginning and say we are gong to win it. That has pushed us to be better every single day.”

Though many of the players are carry-overs from the 2014 team that made it to the World Series, Maly said the team is completely different. She said the 2015 Cajuns can beat you in more ways, and everyone has her own way of contributing.

“Last year we felt we could do it, but it’s a little different (this year) because we have different ways to win,” she said. “We have different people contributing and we know what we are working for. We know we have the ability to win.”